30 Facts About Empress Masako


Empress Masako studied law at the University of Tokyo and international relations at Balliol College, Oxford.


Empress Masako then worked for Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat.


Empress Masako Owada was born on 9 December 1963 at Toranomon Hospital in Toranomon, Minato, Tokyo.


Empress Masako went to live in Moscow with her parents when she was two years old, where she attended Detskiy Sad No 1127 daycare.


At the age of five, Empress Masako's family moved to New York City, where she attended kindergarten at Public School 81 in Riverdale.


Empress Masako entered Futaba Gakuen, a private Roman Catholic girls' school in Den-en-chofu, Tokyo.


Empress Masako studied her fourth and fifth languages, French and German.


Empress Masako joined the school's softball team and won a Goethe Society award for her German poetry.


Empress Masako liked to ski and traveled overseas during vacations, staying with a host family in France and studying at the Goethe-Institut.


Empress Masako is fluent in English and in French, which she learned in 1983 at the University Center for French Studies at Universite Grenoble Alpes.


Out of 800 applicants only 28 passed; Empress Masako was one of them, along with two other women.


Empress Masako's assignments included dealing with the OECD's environmental affairs committee.


Two years later, in 1988, Empress Masako was chosen by the Ministry to be sponsored for two years' postgraduate study overseas with full pay, just as her father Hisashi had been years earlier.


Empress Masako "desperately wanted to go back to Harvard to do her master's".


However, for unclear reasons Empress Masako did not finish her thesis and instead returned to Japan in 1990.


Empress Masako first met Prince Naruhito at a tea for Infanta Elena of Spain, in November 1986, during her studies at the University of Tokyo.


However, Empress Masako's name disappeared from the list of possible royal brides due to controversy about her maternal grandfather, Yutaka Egashira, who while working for the Industrial Bank of Japan was assigned to take over management of one of its creditors the Chisso Corporation to prevent it from financial collapse.


Empress Masako refused to marry the prince because it would force her to give up her promising career in diplomacy and severely restrict her independence and freedoms.


Empress Masako finally accepted his third proposal on 9 December 1992.


Empress Masako married Crown Prince Naruhito in a traditional wedding ceremony on 9 June 1993.


Empress Masako became the third commoner to marry into the imperial family, after her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law, Princess Kiko.


Naruhito and Empress Masako marked their 20th wedding anniversary in June 2013.


The Emperor and Empress Masako have one daughter: Aiko, Princess Toshi.


Empress Masako welcomed the couple during an official ceremony at the palace which was her first appearance in a welcoming ceremony after five years.


In July 2015, Princess Empress Masako traveled to Tonga with the Crown Prince in order to attend the Coronation of King Tupou VI.


The new Emperor and Empress Masako were enthroned at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on 22 October 2019.


Naruhito and Masako's first trip abroad as Emperor and Empress took place in September 2022, to the United Kingdom to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.


Empress Masako has periodically been out of the public eye, largely between 2004 and 2014, reportedly due to emotional disorders speculated to be caused by the pressure to produce a male heir and adjusting to life in the Imperial Family.


In December 2012, at the time of her 49th birthday, Empress Masako issued a statement thanking the Japanese people for their support and saying that she was still receiving treatment for her illness.


In 2019, Empress Masako accompanied her husband at official events and at his accession ceremonies.