Princess Nori takes off for Balkans

Princess Nori, the only daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, left Narita airport Sunday for Europe on an official visit to Romania and Croatia that will last through Oct. 18.

The 33-year-old princess is the first member of Japan’s Imperial family to visit Romania since 1979. The Emperor visited the country that year as Crown Prince, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

She will also be the first Japanese Imperial family member to visit Croatia since it became an independent state in 1991, the agency said.

Before visiting the Eastern European countries, the princess will first stay in Florence, Italy, until Tuesday, where she will adjust to the time difference and visit the Mabellini conservatory in Pistoia, a city near Florence, the agency said.

Her mother, the Empress, stunned an audience there in 1993 by performing an impromptu piano version of Gounod’s Ave Maria at the city hall.

Princess Nori will arrive in Romania on Wednesday, the agency said, to attend a concert and other events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of relations between Japan and Romania.

She will then go to Croatia on Oct. 13 to attend events including a luncheon hosted by President Stipe Mesic. The princess is also scheduled to visit a guide dog training institution, as she is known to have a keen interest in the training of seeing-eye dogs.