National

Crown Prince Naruhito's memoir of time at Oxford reissued in English ahead of May 1 accession

Kyodo

Crown Prince Naruhito’s memoir was republished Thursday in English translation by a U.K. publisher ahead of his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1.

The book, published by Renaissance Books, records the 59-year-old prince’s experiences while studying at the University of Oxford in England between 1983 and 1985. He became the first in line to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Emperor Hirohito, posthumously called Emperor Showa, in 1989.

The book, sold at £12.95 (¥1,880), was first released in Japanese in 1993 and later translated into English by the late Hugh Cortazzi, who served as a British ambassador to Japan.

The translated edition was published in 2006 under the title “The Thames and I: A Memoir of Two Years at Oxford,” becoming the first autobiographical work of a future Japanese emperor to appear in English.

On the release of the English edition, the prince fondly recalled his time at Oxford and expressed his wish to bring Japan and the U.K. closer together through his writings.

The memoir describes the Crown Prince’s daily life during his time at the university, where he studied the historical importance of the River Thames as a transport system.

As well as an account of his academic experiences, the memoir also features colorful observations and anecdotes about student life in the city and the Crown Prince’s trips around the U.K. and Europe.

In one humorous episode, he recalls being refused entry to a bar after his jeans were deemed too casual to meet the dress code.

Another passage describes how he narrowly avoided flooding his student dormitory when he attempted to do the laundry by himself for the first time.

His years in Oxford marked the first time anyone in the direct line of succession to the Chrysanthemum Throne had studied outside Japan.

Despite his royal title and status, the Crown Prince lived alongside his peers in an ordinary dormitory, making the most of the opportunity to socialize with fellow students.

Before his death in August 2018, Cortazzi said the memoir offered a rare insight into the prince’s character. “I believe it reveals the Crown Prince’s charm, modesty, sense of humor and conscientious dedication to his studies and will enhance his international image,” he wrote.

The memoir was reissued in association with the Japan Society in London to mark the historic occasion of the accession. It will be followed by a new book, co-edited by Cortazzi, detailing the history of the relationship between the Japanese and British royal families from the year 1850 onward.