• Kyodo

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The Emperor and Empress on Thursday began the third day of their official trip to the Netherlands with a visit to the Japanese cultural center in Leiden.

The Imperial Couple, who are staying at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, started out the day by traveling to Leiden, some 40 km southwest of Amsterdam.

They visited the Sieboldhuis, the house of Dutch physician Phillipp Franz von Siebold, who played a key role in introducing Western medicine to Japan in the mid-19th century.

It opened in April as the first official Japanese cultural center in the Netherlands with information on Japan, traditional and modern art and on Dutch-Japanese relations.

The Sieboldhuis displays many objects that Siebold collected during his stay in Japan as a resident physician between 1823 and 1829 on the artificial island of Dejima, off Nagasaki, used as the Dutch trading post between the 17th and 19th centuries.

The Dutch, along with the Chinese, were chosen as the only foreigners allowed to trade with Japan during the 200 years of Japan’s self-imposed isolation.

Later in the day, the Imperial Couple were expected to visit Leiden University. Founded in 1575, it is the oldest university in the Netherlands and has a renowned department dedicated to Japan studies.

They will then travel further south to Rotterdam, where they will visit the City Hall and attend a luncheon hosted by Rotterdam Mayor Ivo Willem Opstelten.

On Thursday night, the Emperor and Empress will stay at the Paleis Het Loo, a royal hunting lodge in Apeldoorn, some 90 km east of Amsterdam.

They will leave the Netherlands on Friday morning for Finland for the third leg of their four-nation European tour. They will also visit Sweden before returning to Japan on June 1.