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January 20, 2006
Princess gives up palace life for love and apartment
by Gulliver

What greater love can a woman have for a man than she gives up her royal birthright for him.

That's just what the only daughter of Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko did when she married a commoner.

The 36-year-old Princess Sayako gave up the title of princess and swapped the royal palace to start life as a commoner in a Tokyo apartment with 40-year-old urban planner Yoshiki Kuroda.

She was cheered by thousands of well-wishers as she was driven from the palace to the Imperial Hotel where the low-key wedding ceremony took place.

This was the first time that an emperor's daughter married a commoner. The wedding, attended by Sayako's parents and her brothers Akishino and Crown Prince Naruhito, was an austere one by royal standards.

The bride wore a simple, full-length white silk dress and pearls. The traditional Shinto ceremony was held in a sparsely decorated room.

The couple were greeted by a priest dressed in white silk robes. About 30 close relatives, including the emperor and empress, attended.

Instead of exchanging wedding rings, the half-hour ceremony centered on the sipping of cups of sake rice wine.

Afterwards the bride - now known as plain Sayaka Kuroda - moved to her Tokyo apartment to begin her new life as a wife and taxpayer.

"I want to learn new things and I look forward to a new life as a member of the Kuroda family, while treasuring in my heart the life I have led up until now with their majesties and my family," Sayako said after the wedding on November 15, 2005 .

The emperor and empress wished the newlywed couple a quiet life together and thanked the public for their support.

The couple were childhood friends, and their romance began two years ago at a tennis party thrown by Sayako's brother Prince Akishino.

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