Her early life was spent travelling as a result of her father's job. She attended kindergarten in Moscow, high school in Boston, and university at Harvard, graduating in 1985 with a degree in economics.
She then entered the faculty of law at Tokyo University - the training ground for the cream of Japanese bureaucrats.
Fluent in several languages, she entered the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 1987, spending some time at Balliol College in Oxford for further studies.
But since her marriage, the restrictions imposed by the Imperial Household have meant the former jet-setting Princess Masako has only travelled a handful of times.
It has been assumed that conservatives in the Imperial Household have wanted her close to home so she could concentrate her energies on conceiving.
In the stultifying atmosphere of Tokyo's Togu Palace, even phone calls to her parents are rumoured to first need approval by a vast entourage of court officials.
Japan's Crown Princess Masako smiles as she waves to well-wishers from the bullet-proof glass-covered balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 23, 2005.
The princess now only makes limited appearances in public
This clash between her cosmopolitan background and the conservative atmosphere at the Imperial Household became evident quite quickly.
After just over three years of marriage, Princess Masako was admitting: "At times I experience hardship in trying to find the proper point of balance between traditional things and my own personality".
It took five years for the princess to conceive, and just as a media frenzy erupted following rumours she was pregnant, the Imperial Agency grimly announced a miscarriage.
Following fertility treatment, she finally gave birth to a girl, Aiko, four years ago.
But that was not enough for the imperial courtiers. A boy is required to inherit the throne. The Imperial Agency's chief, Toshio Yuasa, publicly called on the couple to have a second child.
It appears that Princess Masako may not be able to draw solace from the imperial family, either.
She is rumoured to have a poor relationship with her in-laws, despite the fact she shares a similar background with Empress Michiko.
The empress, too, is a commoner, and is reported to have suffered a similar bout of depression in the 1960s.
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