Princess Aiko turns 11 with hoops dreams

Kyodo

Princess Aiko, the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, celebrated her 11th birthday Saturday.

The princess, a fifth-grader at Gakushuin Primary School in Tokyo, has been working hard to improve her English-language ability and since joining the basketball club this spring has also competed in games against rival school teams, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

As Aiko had to be taken out of school for a while after starting to experience anxiety about attending classes in February 2010, the Crown Princess started accompanying her to school that April. The princess, however, has since adjusted and began going to school without her mother since last December.

In addition to studying English at school, the princess has been taking English conversation classes with a foreign teacher since May.

The agency said Aiko often practices basketball with its officials on the premises of the Crown Prince’s official residence, Togu Palace. After losing a game with her basketball team in November, the princess reportedly put on a brave face and was quoted as saying, “I had a good experience,” nonetheless.

When Emperor Akihito underwent heart surgery in February, the princess sent him flowers picked at her parents’ home along with a letter to help raise his spirits. On the first anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that wiped out the northeast coast in March 2011, Aiko observed a silent prayer with her parents at their residence, according to the agency.