Japan’s ex-Princess Mako puts her art degree to good use and now works at the Met

japan, princess mako, royal, imperial, family, art, the metropolitan museum

Mako Komuro, former princess, gave up her royal title to marry her college sweetheart. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

TOKYO – Japan’s former Princess Mako has been found working at New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art, as she abandons her royal life after marrying her college sweetheart and moving to the United States in the end of last year.

The former king, who kept a low profile in the bustling metropolis, is credited in a catalog entry for an exhibition of scroll paintings hanging from the museum’s Asian art collection. She worked as a volunteer, according to the Japan time. The works depict scenes from the life of the eminent monk Ippen, known for spreading Buddhism in Japan by reciting prayers while dancing.

After studying art history at university, the 30-year-old sought to find work in the New York art scene after giving up her life in the Japanese imperial family. The former royal, who now goes by her husband’s surname Komuro, has spent the past five and a half years working at a museum at the University of Tokyo.

After Mako was stripped of her Imperial membership for marrying her commoner husband, rumors swirled about how the newlyweds would survive in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Of his own volition, Mako Komuro rejected his one-time payment of around $1.35 million usually given to outgoing royals.

Such a lack of financial cushioning was worrisome to some Komuro fans. But after learning that she has secured a working relationship with one of the world’s most prestigious art museums, albeit possibly unpaid, supporters are reassured.

Shion Naito, a recent high school graduate who hopes to study art history at university, said she was proud the former princess found the opportunity.

“I feel like there was a lot of fear that Mako wouldn’t get a job because she wasn’t really used to working, but it looks like she’s doing really well. she told VICE World News.

Naito also said that Komuro’s decision encouraged her to think beyond education in Japan. “Maybe I should also study abroad like Mako did, or go to college in New York – I shouldn’t limit myself to Japan,” she said.

Risa Tomita, a 25-year-old waitress looking for a job to become a full-time art curator, echoed Naito’s praise of the ex-princess. “It’s good that Mako is doing something with his degree, especially since Kei is still studying to pass his bar exam,” she told VICE World News.

Kei Komuro has already failed the exam and recently re-saw it in February, although his results have not yet been released.

japan, princess mako, royal, imperial, family, art, the metropolitan museum

Mako Komuro visiting an exhibition while still a royal. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Mako Komuro studied art and cultural heritage at the International Christian University in Tokyo, where the ex-royal met her husband. She also attended the University of Edinburgh for a year to study art history, then graduated from the University of Leicester in 2016 with an MA in Museum and Art Gallery Studies.

While working as a special researcher at the University of Tokyo’s university museum, the ex-princess’ engagement to Komuro was embroiled in controversy, as tabloids reported that her suitor’s mother was to money.

Such coverage delayed their marriage for three years. The couple married in October and flew to New York a few weeks later, where Kei Komuro was working at a local law firm.

The Komuros have dismissed questions that intrude on their private lives, although they have said they want to build a warm and peaceful home together. The couple reportedly live in a one-bedroom apartment in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City.

Follow Hanako Montgomery on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayleen C. Rice