Japanese art historian Mako Komuro, formerly Princess Mako of Akishino, who renounced her imperial title last October when she married her college sweetheart, a commoner, is reportedly helping out in the Asian art department at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
According to a report in Japan Times the former princess is volunteering her time to help with a forthcoming exhibition of hanging scroll paintings by the Okinawan artist Yamada Shinzan inspired by the life of Ippen, a monk who travelled around Japan introducing large crowds to Buddhism during the Kamakura period (1192-1333). She wrote the catalogue entry for the only Shinzan hanging scroll painting in the Met’s online collection database, which includes detailed analysis of the painting, a thorough account of the narrative of Ippen’s life and context about different depictions thereof.
While Komuro may be volunteering her time for visa reasons, she is eminently qualified for a post-imperial career in the museum field. She earned an undergraduate degree in art and heritage from Tokyo’s International Christian University and a master’s degree in museum and gallery studies from the University of Leicester in 2016. While she was still a royal she held a special research position at the University of Tokyo’s University Museum, balancing her institutional and imperial duties.
Upon giving up her royal title, Komuro refused the $1.3m payment typically given by the Japanese government to women of the imperial family who lose their title through marriage. The former princess and her husband, Kei Komuro, moved from Tokyo to New York in November 2021.
Komuro isn’t the only royal working at the upper echelons of the art world. Princess Eugenie of York is a director at Hauser & Wirth. In 2019 she gave her grandmother, Queen Elisabeth II, a tour of the mega-gallery’s compound in Sommerset.
No word yet on whether Komuro’s grandfather, Emperor Naruhito, has plans to pay her a visit at the Met. A spokesperson for the museum did not respond to a request for comment.