Her Imperial Highness Princess Ayako of Takamado visits Leo and Maureena Pretty Young Man’s tipi in Indian Village. She is wearing her parents were the Prince and Princess of Takamado. She wore her mother’s shawl, cowboy boots and her father’s belt buckle that was gifted to him by the RCMP when they attended the Calgary Stampede 25 years ago. Photo by: Chris Bolin

On Thursday, July 13 the Calgary Stampede was pleased to welcome Her Imperial Highness Princess Ayako of Takamado to The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth! She is in Canada on an official visit for the 50th anniversary of the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens in Lethbridge, Alberta.

“It was a real honour to welcome Princess Ayako to the Calgary Stampede and share our traditions and western hospitality,” said Cindy Provost, director, Calgary Stampede board of directors.

Princess Ayako began her visit to the Stampede in Indian Village where she met with Elders and Tipi Owners, Leo and Maureena Pretty Young Man and then sampled some delicious bannock (traditional Indigenous fry bread).

“The Treaty 7 nations were so proud to share their traditions and culture, it was a pleasure to see her enjoying herself,” added Provost.

The next stop was Sweetgrass Lodge, where Princess Ayako was honoured in a White Hat Ceremony, presented by  Cindy Provost and Roc Spence from the Calgary Stampede board of directors.

“It’s always a privilege to have special guests come and visit and we are humbled that she expressed interest in joining us,” said Provost.

The next stop was to the Agriculture Zone, where the Imperial delegation was joined by Dina Sutherland, agriculture event presentations manager, Calgary Stampede to tour through Draft Horse Town, Ag-tivity in the City and the UFA Cattle Trail. Afterwards, Princess Ayako and other dignitaries enjoyed the afternoon at the Rodeo, watching the saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling and tie-down roping.

Her Imperial Highness Princess Ayako enjoys the afternoon Rodeo at the Calgary Stampede. She is wearing earrings that were gifted to her by the Indian Events committee. Photo by: Chris Bolin

“It was a great day and we are so honoured that Princess Ayako took time during her official visit to Canada to join in on our community celebration, just as the Prince and Princess of Takamodo did 25 years ago,” said Alison Buie, manager, government relations, Calgary Stampede.

While earning her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Josai International University in Japan, Princess Ayako also attended Camosun College in British Columbia.