Today, Mako Komuro—formerly known as Princess Mako of Akishino—celebrates her 31st birthday. Eleven years ago, when she turned 20, we saw her make her tiara debut in Tokyo. Today, we’re looking back at that glittering occasion, and chatting a little about Mako’s new life in America.
Princess Mako, the eldest child of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan, was born on October 23, 1991. Twenty years later, she officially became an adult in the eyes of the Japanese imperial family. Her birthday celebration included her first appearance in gala attire and jewels, worn for a visit to her grandparents, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, at the Imperial Palace.
Princess Mako wore the full gala “uniform” donned by Japanese imperial women during formal functions: an evening gown in a light-colored fabric with a matching jacket (and even a matching handbag!), diamond (or diamond and pearl) jewelry, the insignia of the Order of the Precious Crown, white gloves, and a fan.
Princess Mako wore several evening dresses over the course of her tenure as an imperial princess. This one featured a small metallic pattern, allowing her to shimmer elegantly from head to toe.
Her jewelry included a diamond tiara, which would be the only tiara she would wear while working as a member of the imperial family. It features a floral motif based on the iris setosa, the symbolic flower assigned to her mother, Crown Princess Kiko. Many have noted design similarities between this tiara and Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara from the British royal collection.
Mako’s diamond parure also included several other coordinating pieces, including a mirrored necklace, a brooch (not visible here), a pair of bracelets, and earrings. The set was made by the Japanese jewelry firm Wako.
Mako wore the diamond parure many times over the next decade, primarily for gala celebrations at the Imperial Palace. Here, she wears the jewels with a light blue and white gown for a banquet during the Spanish state visit in April 2017.
Here, she wears the jewels during the May 2019 ceremonies that marked the abdication of her grandfather, Emperor Akihito, and the accession of her uncle, Emperor Naruhito.
She also wore the jewels during Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement celebrations in October 2019.
Princess Mako’s final appearance in her diamond parure came in January 2020, for the New Year celebrations at the Imperial Palace. In October of last year, she married her longtime boyfriend, Kei Komuro, and gave up her imperial title and status. Her jewelry was returned to the imperial vaults.
For the past year, Mako Komuro has lived with her husband in New York, where he works for a law firm. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Mako has been working as an intern with the Asian art collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (She holds multiple degrees in the fields of art history and museum studies.) The former princess has also been spotted out living life just like any other normal New Yorker, shopping and wearing casual clothes. The Komuros had a long, hard road to get to married life, and here’s hoping they’re finally able to both live happily together.