National

Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and family meet Bhutan's king

Kyodo

Crown Prince Akishino, Crown Princess Kiko and their 12-year-old son Prince Hisahito met Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his wife Jetsun Pema on Monday and spent time together in the capital city of Thimphu.

A classical Bhutanese dance was performed and a band played as the crown princess and Prince Hisahito entered Tashichho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress housing the king’s offices and those of the Bhutanese government.

For the ceremony, Crown Princess Kiko and Prince Hisahito wore formal kimono, and the prince also wore a traditional Japanese haori coat.

After lunch they watched archery, the kingdom’s national sport, in the city’s stadium.

The crown princess and Prince Hisahito arrived in the country separately from the crown prince on Saturday.

The visit to Bhutan is Prince Hisahito’s first overseas trip. The junior high school student became second in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne following his uncle Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne in May.

The family, on a private trip during Prince Hisahito’s summer holiday from school, was invited by the Bhutanese imperial family.

The two countries established diplomatic ties in 1986, and Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko traveled to Bhutan in 1997. The king of Bhutan visited Japan as a state guest in 2011. In 2017, Princess Mako, elder sister of Prince Hisahito, paid an official visit to Bhutan.

The imperial family has been keen on providing heirs to the throne with overseas experience during their teens. As a third-grade junior high school student, Emperor Naruhito spent time with a host family in Australia.

Crown Prince Akishino visited New Zealand while at junior high school and, just like Emperor Naruhito, went on to study at Oxford University in England.

Ahead of the family trip, Prince Hisahito was already studying Bhutan’s culture and language, according to one of his aides.

Visits to temples and museums are also scheduled during their stay, before they return on Sunday.

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