28 OCTOBER 2005

Click here to send this news item to a friend With weeks to go before the wedding of Japan's Princess Sayako, the country's royal family have been stepping out in style for their annual autumn garden party. There was no mistaking the happiness surrounding the event as the ladies of the royal household were also sporting cheerful smiles along with their elegant kimonos.

Thirty-five-year-old Sayako, who is set to marry on November 15, looked the picture of contentment as she followed her parents, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, out into the lush gardens of Tokyo's Imperial Palace.

Crown Prince Naruhito was also on hand to greet the throngs of well-wishers who had gathered for the party. The only shadow over the festivities was the absence of his wife, Crown Princess Masako, who suffers from a depressive illness described as "an adjustment disorder."

It had been hoped that this year would mark a return to public duties for the royal after she attended her sister-in-law's engagement party in March, but doctors insisted she slow the pace of her comeback. "They seem to think that Princess Masako has a tendency to try to attempt too much and try too hard," said the crown prince.

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Photo: ©
Princess Sayako looked the picture of happiness as she stepped forward to greet well-wishers at an autumn garden partyPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
She was part of a royal party, led by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, at the annual eventPhoto: © AFP
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