Belmont High’s Empress: Class Of ’81 Alum Graduates to Chrysanthemum Throne

Photo: Empress Mask, Belmont High School, Class of 1981.

Some high schools can boast of their alums who have become pro athletes, pop singers or movie stars while others point to those who run high tech start ups or prize winning eateries.

At Belmont High, the most noted graduate is part of royalty. Not the Hollywood type of nobility (aka Kardashians) or someone from a tiny island principality. In Belmont, that grad is a proper empress.

Belmont High School alumna Masako Owada, 55, became the Empress of Japan on Tuesday, April 30.

A member of the graduating class of 1981, Owada – who was named Masako, Crown Princess of Japan, when she married Crown Prince Naruhito in 1993 – became empress with the abdication of Naruhito’s father, 83-year-old Emperor Akihito who is stepping down from theChrysanthemum Throne.

Owada’s journey to Belmont was not that uncommon for a child of a diplomat as her father, Hisashi Owada, was sent by the Japanese government to Moscow and New York before coming to Massachusetts as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School for two years.

Living a stone’s throw from Habitat on Juniper Street with her parents and younger twin sisters, Owada spent her junior and senior years at the Concord Avenue school where she was a member of the French Club and Math team. After graduation, Owada didn’t travel far for college, attending Harvard. 

Belmont and Owada would next intersect in 1993 when her engagement to Akihito’s eldest son was announced. A short blast of interest in Owada’s former hometown from Japanese tourists occurred only to subside just as quickly. 

The next question is if Empress Masako will be attending her next high school reunion, her 40th, in 2021.