The 28-year-old princess said “I am filled with happiness” as she sat next to her 32-year-old groom, an employee of shipping company Nippon Yusen, after the traditional ceremony at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine.
She wore a large, multiple layered kimono and extravagant molded hair, typical of imperial aristocracy, while the groom wore a black tuxedo with grey trousers for the ceremony at the shrine dedicated to the spirit of her great-grandfather, Emperor Meiji.
Her cream kimono featured red flowers and was finished with a purple skirt and shoes.
Upon leaving the ceremony, Princess Ayako was seen in a deep red kimono with a train.
The private ceremony was held in front of the Japanese Imperial Family, including her older sister Princess Tsuguko.
In a news conference after the Shinto ceremony, Princess Ayako said: “I’m filled with joy to get married and to have so many people visit us at the Meiji Shrine and congratulate us.”
Japanese royals have the freedom to choose their partner for at least three generations. But strict rules for female royals mean they must renounce their imperial status should they marry a commoner.
Her name now becomes Ayako Moriya after signing marriage papers today.
Japan royal wedding: Princess Ayako married commoner Kei Moriya
Princess Ayako leaving her her Japanese royal wedding
Japan’s Princess Ayako arriving for her wedding
The Japanese royal family is quickly shrinking due to the rule, with Ayako following her cousin Princess Mako, who last year announced she would give up her royal title for the same reason.
And Ayako’s sister Princess Noriko quit the royal family in 2014 to marry outside royalty.
Japan’s royal family is experiencing a shortage of males. Crown Prince Naruhito, who takes over after Akihito abdicates next year, his brother Fumihito, his nephew Hisahito and Masahito, the octogenarian brother of the current emperor, are the only four male heirs to the throne left.
The shrinking royal family has raised concerns and calls for changes in the Imperial Succession Law, but conservatives are deeply resistant to allowing females to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne.
Princess Ayako had her hair in traditional Japanese style for the wedding
Princess Ayako wore a traditional kimono as she left her royal wedding
Speaking in July when she announced her engagement, Ayako explained how she met Mr Moriya through her mother, who hoped she would be inspired by his work with NGOs.
She said: “I don’t know what my mother’s intentions were in introducing him to me, but as the two of us went to various places together and shared our time and memories, we became naturally drawn to each other.
“I think we were able to come this far thanks to the wonderful ties started by our mothers.”
She said she was drawn to her husband’s “kind, smart and decisive” personality.
Princess Ayako of Takamado and Kei Moriya speak to media reporters after their wedding
Princess Ayako on Friday when she paid respects to the Japanese royal family dynasty
Speaking on their engagement, she said: “He proposed to me this year having a dinner at a restaurant. It was very sudden, so I asked to hold for my answer.
“As we have deepened the relationship including our family, friends and related people, I came to the decision and accepted this proposal.”
The couple bonded over their shared grief, with Ayako losing her father Norihito, Prince Takamado, in 2002. Mr Moriya mother Kimie died in 2015.
Mr Moriya said: “I also felt we grew closer as she expressed understanding toward the emotional impact of suddenly losing a parent.”
Ayako’s ceremony today was a lavish and traditional affair, which started on Friday when the then-princess was seen in an ivory and gold gown, tiara and diamond necklace and earrings to pay respects to the dynasty at three sanctuaries located within the Imperial Palace: Kashikodokoro, Koreiden and Shinden.
She also wore a traditional imperial order on her right shoulder.
The ceremony called “Kashikodokoro-koreiden-shinden-ni-essuru-no-gi”, was seen as a final farewell to the Imperial family.
Later she was seen in a red kimono to visit a shrine to the Sun Goddess of Japan, Amatersasu-omikami.
Then she visited Koreiden, where successive emperors and imperial family members are worshipped, before finally visiting the Shinden shrine to pay her respects.