Nov. 15, 2005 -- Japanese Princess Sayako just tied the knot with an old family friend -- thereby bidding farewell to her family and her royal title.
Sayako -- known informally as Nori -- enjoyed 36 years of pampered life at the royal palace, but she's still giving it all up for Yoshi Kuroda, a 40-year-old Tokyo city employee.
Out goes the privilege, in comes the housework.
Unlike her two brothers, the bird researcher had to give up her status and her generous royal allowance under a 1947 law that automatically strips female royals of all royal advantages when they get married.
I guess Sayako has answered New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's new book, "Are Men Necessary?" with a resounding "yes."
Sayako's ditched her title, her allowance, her job and her palatial lifestyle all for her "common" hubbie.
It gets worse.
Her husband has been living with his mother until now, so Nori is going to have to dote on him in a major way.
For the record, her husband isn't exactly a blue-collar working stiff. He's got aristocratic ties, although all that noble stuff was banned in Japan after WWII, so let's just call him middle-class.
And now that she's a plebeian like the rest of us, Sayako will have to pay taxes.
This gal really wanted to live happily ever after even if the guy wasn't a prince.
What a culture shock.
The Simple Life, Japanese Style
The "It" girls Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton had it easy in the "Simple Life" compared to the new Mrs. Kuroda. The pampered duo's hit reality show had them rubbing elbows with the common folk for just three months at a time. Sayako's new role is for the long haul ("til death do us part").
Perhaps wisely, the princess-turned-commoner quit her part-time job to prepare for the transition. Call it a crash course on domesticity.
Besides fine-tuning her cooking skills, she learned the finer points of wheeling a cart around a grocery store and parallel parking in Tokyo. That's the soft side of homemaking; now comes cleaning out the refrigerator, picking up the dirty laundry and, yes, making the bed. (Go with the comforter, it takes much less effort.)
If the happy couple gets a load of china and silverware as wedding presents, it may mean Nori will be stuck at home scrubbing and buffing all day.
That's not all she'll be polishing. The princess said that her father, Emperor Akihito, told her "to continue to polish the virtues" she has gained in her life so far.She followed up by admitting there were many things she didn't know about what lay ahead and that she wasn't even sure how to follow her dad's advice.
Well, don't get any ideas from the gals on "Desperate Housewives" because that may land you back at the palace -- with no hubbie, no title, no nothing.
Domestic diva Martha Stewart has plenty of homemaking tips, but it may be better for Nori to refrain from playing the stock market with her $1.3 million inheritance.
At least her cash will give her a fair amount of independence. I bet you she'll drive to the department store and buy herself a spiffy vacuum clearner. Or forget it, just hire a full-time maid.
Aging like a princess sounds more fun than being a diva housewife, but now she doesn't have to deal with all the pomp and circumstance of the palace. After all, her sister-in-law (who went from being a commoner to a royal) took a one-year break from public duties because of the "stressful" lifestyle.
But Sayako's "ex-communication" may not last long, as Japan ponders loosening up its laws. With no male heir born to the royal family since 1965, Japan is studying the possibility of allowing women to assume the throne and of letting princesses keep their royal title after marriage.
Japan has now come to the realization that women are necessary. Sayako may never again regain her old status, but I bet she'll be able to crash the palace for home cooking and luxury living.
And if she is the only one to bear a son, then the succession of the Japanese throne will get even more complicated.
By then, I bet the emperor will be happy to send a car over.