The Japanese Royal Family in Photos

imperial parade for enthronement of naruhito in tokyo

Takashi AoyamaGetty Images

For many of us in the U.S., the words “royal family” automatically conjure images of the Buckingham Palace balcony, but the Brits are far from the only ones to boast a royal family with a long heritage and history—not to mention a dash of pomp and circumstance. In fact, the imperial house of Japan claims the oldest continuous monarchy in the world, tracing their history back to 600 BC. (Though some of those early emperors are shrouded in myth, there is evidence of the family’s reign as far back as 500 AD.)

Here, we take a look at some of the must-know names from the modern imperial family.

Emperor Naruhito

The current Emperor of Japan, Naruhito is the eldest son of former Emperor Akhito and his wife former Empress Michiko. Seen here at the opening of a session of Japan’s parliament in 2020, he has served as the official head of Japan’s imperial family since 2019.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako

Naruhito’s wife Empress Masako, worked in a diplomatic role before their marriage and was educated at Oxford and Harvard.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako

When the couple married in June 1993, Masako became only the second commoner in Japanese history to marry the first in line to the throne (the first being her mother-in-law Michiko).

Princess Aiko

The only child of the Emperor and Empress, Aiko is currently a student of Japanese literature at Gakushuin University. Unlike the British line of succession, Japanese law dictates that she is not in line for the throne, as only men in the direct male line of succession are allowed to reign as monarch.

Crown Prince Akishino

Also known as Crown Prince Fumihito, the Emperor’s younger brother was officially declared the Crown Prince (making him the official first in line for the throne) in a ceremony in November 2020.

Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko

Though Crown Princess Kiko married Crown Prince Akishino in 1990, she actually spent much of her youth outside of Japan. She lived in Philadelphia for six years as a child while her father attended the University of Pennsylvania, and later moved with her family to Vienna. Her global experiences positioned her well for her life as a working royal, and she often travels with her husband for official duties abroad.

Princess Mako and Princess Kako

The Crown Prince and Princess have three children together. Their oldest daughters, Mako and Kako, attended the enthronement ceremony of their uncle, Emperor Naruhito, in 2019.

Princess Mako and Kei Komuro

Princess Kako

Like other members of her family, Kako is a working royal and has completed official duties abroad, including this official trip to Austria and Hungary in 2019.

Sayako Kuroda

Though she is no longer a royal, Sayako Kuroda was born a princess. The only daughter of former Emperor Akihiko and Empress Michiko (and sister to current Emperor Naruhito) she gave up her royal status in 2005 to marry commoner Yoshiki Kuroda.

Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko

The former emperor and empress stepped back in 2019 due to Akihiko’s ill health; abdicating to let their son, Naruhito, claim the throne. The decision made him the first Japanese emperor in over 200 years to abdicate.

Emperor Hirohito and the Imperial Family

Akihito was the eldest of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako’s seven children.

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