Crown Prince Akishino of Japan has marked his 57th birthday by releasing new official family portraits – but his eldest daughter Princess Mako was notably absent from the photoshoot.
Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother – who is first-in-line to the throne – was photographed at the Akasaka imperial residence in Tokyo earlier this month.
The Crown Prince – whose birth name is Fuhimito – looked smart in a black suit jacket and grey trousers as he posed for a relaxed photoshoot in the gardens of the state residence.
His wife Crown Princess Kiko, 56, looked chic in a white blouse, navy pleated skirt and grey marl blazer which she cinched in at the waist with a slim leather belt.
The Crown Prince pictured with wife Crown Princess Kiko, 56, Princess Kako, 27, and Prince Hisahito, 16, at the Akasaka imperial residence in Tokyo earlier this month
After posing for portraits with his wife and two eldest children, the heir to the throne then posed for this photo in the gardens. The Crown Prince officially became heir earlier this year
Princess Mako was noticeably missing from the photoshoot. Pictured in 2021 with her now husband Kei Komuro after announcing she was stepping down as a working royal
Meanwhile, Princess Kako, 27, was stylish in a tailored black-and-white checked coat dress which she wore over a black pleated dress.
The elegant royal added a touch of colour to her autumnal outfit with some red flower stud earrings and a swipe of lipstick.
The royal couple’s youngest son Prince Hisahito, 16, looked smart in a navy suit and matched his father with a burgundy striped tie.
Akishino is second in line to succeed his uncle, and will become first in line if his father ascends the throne, and will one day reign over Japan himself.
Crown Prince Akishino and his son matched in suits while Crown Princess Kiko and Princess Kako opted for tailored jackets
The family posed for three photos in total and took a stroll around the gardens
The first of the four images show the family-of-four enjoying a stroll around the gardens – with Crown Princess Kiko gazing lovingly at her husband ahead of his birthday celebrations.
The family then posed for two more pictures smiling directly at the camera before Crown Prince Akishino then had a solo portrait taken leaning against a tree.
The couple’s eldest daughter Mako Komuro, 31, was notably absent from the photoshoot – after relocating to New York in 2021.
It was reported the former princess is working as an unpaid volunteer at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art after giving up her titles – and a $1.3 million payout – to marry her ‘commoner’ college sweetheart.
Princess Mako was reportedly given a $1.3 million payout after giving up her titles to marry her husband Kei Komuro. Pictured at the Imperial Palace on October 11, 2016 in Tokyo
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Mako’s husband Kei Komuro has passed the New York bar exam after two failed attempts.
Meanwhile, Mako is working in the iconic museum’s Asian art collection, helping to put together an exhibit of paintings inspired by the life of a 13th century monk who introducing Buddhism in Japan, according to the Japan Times.
The Upper East Side museum is a 10-minute drive from the luxury one-bedroom apartment in Hell’s Kitchen that she shares with husband and aspiring lawyer Kei Komuro, 30.
The couple were engaged for eight years before tying the knot last October in a small civil ceremony in Tokyo.
Because only male members of the Japanese imperial family are allowed to wed non-royals, Mako’s decision to marry for love means that she is no longer considered a princess and any future sons will not be in the line of succession for the emperorship.
Japan’s Crown Prince Fuhimito completed the last step to officially become first in line for the throne at the Ise Shrine in the Prefecture of Mie in April
Dignitaries came to witness the ceremony, which makes Prince Fuhimito the official heir to his brother Emperor Nahurito
Mako and Kei met in 2013 when they were both studying at the International Christian University outside Tokyo, where she studied art and cultural heritage. She went on to work as a special researcher at Tokyo’s University Museum.
Earlier this year, the Crown Prince officially became the heir to the throne following Emperor Naruhito’s accession in 2019.
Nahurito, who ascended the throne himself following the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito, does not have a male heir, and according to Japanese succession rules, only a man can ascend the throne.
In April, Crown Prince Akishino travelled to the holy shrine at Ise, Mie, where he completed the ritual known as Rikkoshi no Rei, which all heirs to the Chrysanthemum Throne are asked to do.
The ritual first began in 2020, when Nahurito had to send envoys across Japan to locations which have a strong link with the Imperial family, to report that Fuhimito will be his heir.
The locations included Ise Jingu, a Shinto shrine complex in Mie Prefecture, the mausoleum of Emperor Jinmu, Japan’s mythical first Emperor, in Nara Prefecture, and the mausoleum of Emperor Showa, Emperor Naruhito’s grandfather.
After the envoys reported on the news, ceremonies were performed at each sites.