It was third time lucky when Neighbours star Takaya Honda dropped to one knee on the beach and proposed to soulmate Amy Schwab, as the sun set over the sea.
The popular actor – who plays David Tanaka on the show – had already popped the question twice before on Ramsay Street – to his male on-screen lover Aaron Brennan, alias actor Matt Wilson – before the couple sensationally tied the knot in Australian TV’s first same-sex wedding.
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It made headlines around the world, but that was make believe.
At Easter it was for real when Takaya presented his long-time partner with a diamond-and-platinum sparkler from Melbourne jeweller Paul Bram and asked her to be his bride.
“I’ve sat with Amy and watched her see me propose to a man on TV… twice,” laughs the good-humoured Australian hunk, who is of Japanese heritage. “Thankfully, this wasn’t the exact same scenario, because Matt’s character refused the first time I asked him to marry me!”
Romantic Takaya set out to surprise his 30-year-old partner three years and seven months after he asked Amy to be his girlfriend, which followed their introduction via the matchmaking app Tinder.
Cleverly, he concealed his proposal plan from Amy by inviting friends along to a chilled-out Easter getaway at beautiful Byron Bay, on the NSW North Coast. Old schoolmates Rory Lemon and Tom Judd were left to set a candlelit scene on Tallow Beach while Takaya took his unwitting wife-to-be for a walk into town.
“I was wearing a jacket that was much too warm for the occasion, but it was the only way I could mask the ring box in my pocket,” chuckles the fun-loving Play School presenter.
“I just kept talking heaps. I mean, I talk a lot anyway, but I was thinking ‘shut up’ in my mind!”
“I wasn’t exactly nervous, because with Amy and myself it’s never been a question of ‘if.’ From the beginning it’s been a question of ‘when?’. So thankfully I went into the proposal thinking I knew what the answer would be. I don't know how anyone does it otherwise!”
Wanting maximum impact, Takaya used Amy’s favourite ‘party game for horrible people’ – Cards Against Humanity – to speak for him, at least in part.
With a little help from his friends in the Neighbours’ art department, the first black question card read simply, ‘Will you ___ me?’ Dramatically, Takaya then pulled out a custom-made white answer card, inscribed with the missing word… ‘Marry’.
“Why Cards Against Humanity? I mean, it’s not romantic,” he laughs. “Because Amy loves it, and that’s good enough reason for me!
“She did tear up a bit and there was that ‘so this is happening now’ moment, which is exactly what I wanted.”
Since their first date, Takaya knew executive assistant Amy was the woman he wanted to marry. When he moved from Sydney to Melbourne after being cast in Neighbours three years ago, not even a long-distance relationship could dent their love for each other.
Reunited after six months apart, they adopted a beloved rescue dog named Mia and proudly bought their first home.
“I knew if we could get through the trials and tribulations of a renovation together, we could get through anything,” grins Takaya, the self-styled ‘black sheep’ in a family of elite sports people.
Amy has also supported him through his mother Rhonda’s sad battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease – she was diagnosed at the age of 52 – and backed his heartfelt decision to become an ambassador for Dementia Australia.
“The situation with my mum is quite confronting, but Amy has been a rock for me. Her ability just to be with Mum and not be freaked out by that …” Takaya says gratefully, looking forward to a wedding within the next 18 months.
“What isn’t to love about Amy, really? Outside of all the superficial things – obviously, I find her beautiful – she’s incredibly kind. She’s willing to stand up for herself. She’s ambitious. She wants to do better, be better, and she gives everything 110 per cent. I can’t wait for her to be the mother of my children!”
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