01 November 2018

Tiara Thursday: Princess Ayako's Tiara (and Wedding!)

Princess Ayako's Tiara
The princesses of the Japanese imperial family are all presented with tiaras when they officially come of age at 20 years old. These tiaras are often newly made (Mikimoto is a regular jeweler), are always completed in white jewels (diamonds, sometimes with pearls), and are accompanied by a complete parure (matched set) with a necklace and other jewels. The tiara of Princess Ayako follows these guidelines, with a few design twists to set it apart.

Princess Ayako
Princess Ayako of Takamado (as she is now formerly known) is the daughter of the late Prince Takamado, a first cousin of Emperor Akihito, and Princess Hisako. She came of age in 2010 and received a diamond tiara designed in stalks of a floral motif.

Princess Ayako (far right) at the New Year Reception, 2016, with her mother Princess Hisako (in green) and sister Princess Tsuguko (in ivory), and Princesses Akiko (pink) and Yōko (blue) of Mikasa
Whereas many of the imperial family tiaras avoid using motifs from nature and are almost overwhelmingly symmetrical - including many with necklaces that are near-perfect mirrors of the tiara - Ayako's parure sets itself apart with an asymmetrical floral design, a different format for the necklace, and even a fuller interpretation of the motif in her earrings. Her sister, Princess Noriko (now known as Noriko Senge), also had a parure that dipped into an asymmetrical nature design: Princess Noriko's Wave Tiara.

Ayako at the Choken-no-Gi
In accordance with Imperial Household Law, Princess Ayako renounced her title and her official place in the imperial family when she married a commoner, Kei Moriya. (Only officially - she isn't being cut off from her family - and the government gives a lump sum payment to departing princesses. Ayako received $950,000.) She wore this tiara for the last time on October 26, 2018, when she visited the Emperor and Empress for her official farewell, the Choken-no-Gi ceremony.

The tiaras of princesses that leave the family revert back to the imperial household. They may occasionally reappear as a second option for another person, or may be reconfigured. Princess Ayako's Tiara may not be seen again, or if it is, probably not for some time.

For Ayako, though, she still had another tiara appearance to go.

The couple arrive for their wedding
The happy couple married on October 29 at the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo. Ayako Moriya, as she will now be known, arrived in a light yellow uchiki kimono with floral embroidery and changed into a red kouchiki robe. Kei Moriya carried a top hat that belonged to the late Prince Takamado with his morning dress. "I am awed by how blessed I am," the bride said, noting how happy she was to hold the wedding at the shrine where her great-grandfather is worshiped. "I feel so happy." For his part, the groom said his new wife looked "beautiful" and said, "I would like to support her firmly and, hand in hand, build a happy family with lots of laughter."

Embed from Getty Images
A wedding banquet was held later with Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako, and other members of the imperial family in attendance. Ayako surprised by wearing a tiara! It's a necklace that belongs to her mother, actually; you can see Princess Hisako wearing it here.

It's not a very successful necklace/tiara conversion, to be honest, but it's just lovely to see her enjoy a bejeweled bridal moment anyway. Her dress is quite a conversation piece, too - you can see more in the video above. She seemed to enjoy letting her hair down (literally and figuratively) from the strict dress code of the imperial family, and I say more power to her.