Japan Emperor Makes Unusual Stop on UK Visit

A highlight for Emperor Naruhito: the Thames Barrier
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2024 1:37 PM CDT
Japan Emperor Makes Unusual Stop on UK Visit
Britain's Queen Camilla, left,and Japan's Empress Masako, ride in an open carriage during the ceremonial welcome for the State Visit to Britain of the Japanese Emperor and Empress, in London, Tuesday, June 25, 2024.   (Jonathan Brady, Pool Photo via AP)

The Japanese emperor and empress kicked off a three-day state visit in the UK on Tuesday, and while the politics of it are unsurprising, some quirky details have emerged. The basics, and the fascinating bits:

  • Behind the visit: The AP explains the UK is looking to shore up its position as "the most influential European nation in the Indo-Pacific region." It's the first visit by a Japanese head of state since 1998, reports the BBC. The Independent reports it had been scheduled for 2020 and intended as the emperor's first trip abroad after he ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019, but COVID scuttled those plans.
  • Trivia bit No. 1: Emperor Naruhito began the trip with a visit to a place that doesn't make every tourist's list: the Thames Barrier. The retractable flood control gates sit on a river that Naruhito studied while at Oxford decades ago. His studies focused on 18th-century commerce on the river, which features in his memoir, The Thames and I.

  • Trivia bit No. 2: Empress Masako donned a white face mask while taking a horse-drawn carriage ride with Queen Camilla, only to remove it upon arrival at Buckingham Palace, reports People. The reason? An allergy to horse hair.
  • Trivia bit No. 3: The emperor and empress were shown Japan-related items held in the Royal Collection, among them a 1855 scroll from Queen Victoria's library that shows the coronation of Emperor Go-Mizunoo in the early 1600s.
(More Emperor Naruhito stories.)

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