Everything We Know About the Japanese Royal Family (Aka the Oldest Continuous Hereditary Monarchy in the World)

We’re pretty familiar with the lineage of several international royal families, including the British, the Spanish and the Danish …but what about the Japanese royal family?

That’s why we did some digging and compiled a list of must-know facts. From the reigning Emperor to the official residence, keep reading for details about the Japanese royal family (which just so happens to be the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world, NBD).

25 of the Most Ridiculously Strict Rules the Royal Family Must Follow

Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool/Getty Images

1. Who Currently Represents the Japanese Monarchy?

The Japanese royal family is widely known as the Imperial House of Japan, or the Imperial Family. As of 2019, Naruhito is the head of the monarchy. He has multiple official titles, including Emperor of Japan, Emperor Emeritus, Dharma Emperor, Grand King of Yamato, King of Wa, Regent of Japan and Crown Prince.

Imperial Household Agency/Getty Images

2. Who Is Emperor Naruhito?

The royal is the oldest son of Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko. He was born in Tokyo’s Hospital of the Imperial Household in 1960 and immediately became the heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne. He’s currently married to his wife of 29 years, Masako Owada.

When he’s not carrying out royal duties, Naruhito enjoys playing his viola. He also served as an honorary president of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.


3. Who Is Masako Owada?

Masako Owada is the Empress of Japan and the consort of Emperor Naruhito. She’s the oldest daughter of Yumiko Egashira and Hisashi Owada (a senior diplomat). Although she was born in Tokyo, her family moved to the United States when she was a teenager. As a result, she studied at Harvard University, where she obtained a degree in economics. Oh, and did we mention she’s fluent in both English and French?

Kurita KAKU/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

4. Do They Have Any Children?

The Emperor and the Empress share one daughter together, Princess Aiko (20). The royal goes by two different names: her personal moniker, Aiko, and her official one, Toshi. For this reason, she’s often called Princess Aiko and Princess Toshi interchangeably. As of 2022, she’s working toward a double degree in literature and Japanese language at Gakushuin University.


5. Where Do They Live?

Three words: The Imperial Palace. The royal residence is located on the former grounds of Edo Castle, which is best described as a large park-like lot. Not only is it situated in the center of Tokyo, but it also features classic fortress architecture, like moats and towering stone walls.

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

6. How Long Have They Been Around?

The Japanese royal family are famous for following tradition. In fact, the Imperial House of Japan is the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world. This means that one family has ruled the dynasty ever since it was established back in 660. Just let that sink in.

Stay up-to-date on every royal family story by subscribing here.

Listen to ‘Royally Obsessed,’ the Podcast for People Who Love the Royal Family

Greta Heggeness

Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...
read full bio

Why You Should Trust Us

PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.