Kiko, Princess Akishino

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Princess Akishino
Princess Kiko 20091223.jpg
Princess Akishino on 23 December 2009.
Spouse Fumihito, Prince Akishino
Issue Princess Mako of Akishino
Princess Kako of Akishino
Prince Hisahito of Akishino
Full name
Kiko (紀子?)
House Imperial House of Japan
Father Tatsuhiko Kawashima
Mother Kazuyo Sugimoto
Born (1966-09-11) 11 September 1966 (age 48)
Shizuoka, Japan
Religion Shinto
Japanese Imperial Family
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg

HIH The Prince Mikasa
HIH The Princess Mikasa

Kiko, Princess Akishino (文仁親王妃紀子 Fumihito Shinnōhi Kiko?), born Kiko Kawashima (川嶋紀子 Kawashima Kiko?) on 11 September 1966, is the wife of Fumihito, Prince Akishino, the second son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan. She became the second commoner to marry into the imperial family; her mother-in-law, the Empress, was the first in 1959. She is also known as Princess Kiko.

Early life[edit]

Kiko was born in Shizuoka, Japan. She is the eldest daughter of Kazuyo and Tatsuhiko Kawashima. Her father worked as an economics professor at Gakushuin University. She was affectionately called "Kiki" by friends and relatives in her childhood.

She spent her preschool days in the United States when her father received a PhD degree in Regional Economy from the University of Pennsylvania and later taught there. Princess Kiko attended elementary and high school in Vienna, Austria, when her father became the chief researcher at The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, where he studied spatial science and NGO activities. The future princess became fluent in English and German. She participated in the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) in 1987 and continues to be a supporter of the program. She received her undergraduate degree from the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Letters of Gakushuin University in 1989. Kiko subsequently began graduate study in psychology at Gakushuin and completed the first part of the doctorate in 1995.

She was chosen as one of the Young Global Leaders for 2007, drawn from a poll of 4000 candidates.


Princess Akishino in 1990.

Prince Fumihito first proposed marriage to Kiko Kawashima on 26 June 1986 while they were both undergraduates at Gakushuin. Three years later, Imperial Household Council announced the engagement on 12 September 1989[1][2] and the engagement ceremony was held on 12 January 1990. The wedding took place at an exclusive shrine at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on 29 June 1990.[3] The Imperial Household Council had previously granted the prince permission to establish a new branch of the Imperial Family and the Emperor granted him the title Akishino-no-miya (Prince Akishino) on his wedding day. Upon marriage, his bride became Her Imperial Highness The Princess Akishino, known informally as Princess Kiko.

The engagement and marriage of Prince Akishino to the former Kiko Kawashima broke precedent in several respects. First, at the time, the groom was still a graduate student at Gakushuin and married before his older brother, Crown Prince Naruhito. Additionally, the princess was the first woman from a middle-class background to marry into the imperial family. (Although Empress Michiko was born a commoner, she was from a very wealthy family; her father was the president of a large flour-milling company.) Unusual for the time, their engagement and marriage were romantically based, rather than arranged.[citation needed]

Princess Akishino completed her post-graduate studies in psychology in between her official duties and received her master's degree in psychology in 1995. She is known for her continuing interest in deaf culture and the Deaf in Japan. She learned Japanese sign language and she is a skilled sign language interpreter.[4] She attends the "Sign Language Speech Contest for High School Students" held every August, and "Praising Mothers Raising Children with Hearing Impairments" every December. In October 2008, she participated in the "38th National Deaf Women's Conference."[5] She also signs in informal Deaf gatherings.[6]

In March 2013, Kiko was granted PhD degree in Psychology at the Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Ochanomizu University, for her thesis titled "Knowledge, perceptions, beliefs and behaviors related to tuberculosis: A study based on questionnaire surveys with seminar participants of the National Federation of Community Women's Organizations for TB Control and female college students."[7]

The princess suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome osteoporosis aggravated by child-nursing, a symptom common among middle-aged women, her doctor said on 14 December 2007.[8]


Since 1997, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko and their children have maintained a principal residence on the grounds of the Akasaka Estate in Motoakasaka, Minato, Tokyo. The couple have two daughters and one son:

Official duties[edit]

Princess Akishino often accompanies her husband to attend a wide variety of official events within Japan. These events include the Festival of the Sea, the National High School Horse Riding Festival, the All Japan High School Cultural Festival, the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize Ceremony, the National Sports Festival, the National City Greening Festival and All Japan Lifelong Learning Forum. The couple is also called upon to meet with important overseas visitors to improve diplomatic relations.

The Prince and Princess have made numerous official visits to foreign countries. In June 2002, they became the first members of the Imperial Family to visit Mongolia, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. In October 2002, they visited the Netherlands to attend the funeral of the Prince Claus of the Netherlands. In September 2003, the Prince and Princess made goodwill visits to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, again, the first time ever members of the Imperial Family had visited these countries. In March 2004, the Prince and Princess returned to the Netherlands for the funeral of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. In January 2005, they visited Luxembourg to attend the funeral of Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte. In January 2006, they visited Indonesia for a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Indonesia. From October to November 2006, they visited Paraguay to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japanese emigration to that country.

From 25 January to 5 February 2014, the Prince and Princess visited the Republic of Peru and Argentine Republic. They attended the ceremonies commemorating 140th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Peru and the 50th anniversary of the effectuation of immigration agreement between Japan and Argentina. From 27 June to 8 July 2014, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko visited Republic of Zambia and United Republic of Tanzania. They attended the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relationship between Japan and Zambia. They also met with Jakaya Kikwete, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Princess Akishino has also assumed the role of Patroness of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, succeeding the Late Princess Chichibu in June 1994. As the Patroness, she attends various ceremonial events such as the Anti-Tuberculosis National Convention, the Central training seminar for branch leaders of Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Women's Society, and meetings with specialists who participate in the international training course in the National Tuberculosis Program Management. Also, Princess Akishino assumed the role of Patroness of the Social Welfare Juridical Person "Imperial Gift Foundation Boshi-Aiiku-Kai", succeeding Princess Mikasa in October 2010, and visit and see its activities. She also plays an active role in the Japanese Red Cross Society.

The Princess has a strong interest in supporting female researchers who restart researches after childbirth and child care, and attends presentations by researchers supported by "Research Fellowship for Young Scientists - Restarted Post Doctoral fellowship" of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. She carries out research in areas related to health care, and was nominated as the Honorary Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in February 2009.

Titles and styles[edit]

Styles of
Princess Akishino
Akisino no miya mon
Reference style Her Imperial Highness
Spoken style Your Imperial Highness
Alternative style Ma'am

Kiko is styled as "Her Imperial Highness The Princess Akishino".


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Honorary Positions[edit]


Name Birth Marriage Issue
Princess Mako of Akishino 23 October 1991
Princess Kako of Akishino 29 December 1994
Prince Hisahito of Akishino 6 September 2006

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Order of precedence in Japan
Preceded by
The Crown Princess
HIH The Princess Akishino
Succeeded by
The Princess Toshi