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Imperial New Year poetry reading ceremony held in Tokyo on theme of 'window'

The Utakai Hajime Imperial New Year's poetry reading ceremony is held in the Matsu no Ma hall at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Jan. 18, 2022. (Pool photo)

TOKYO -- The Utakai Hajime Imperial New Year's poetry reading ceremony was held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Jan. 18, with readings of poems written by Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and their daughter, Princess Aiko, alongside selected poems from the public. The theme chosen for this year's reading was "mado" (window).

    In his poem, Emperor Naruhito expressed hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would be contained, while Empress Masako expressed appreciation for the greenery at the Fukiage Palace, the new residence of the Emperor and Empress and their daughter Aiko.

    The poem by Princess Aiko expressed her feelings when she stood in front of a stately school building in the United Kingdom, where she participated in the Eton Summer School program.

    Below are the poems by the three Imperial Family members, accompanied by explanations provided by the Imperial Household Agency.

    ***

    His Majesty the Emperor:

    As our contacts with the world

    Remain difficult,

    I earnestly hope for a day

    When the window opens to the world

    (Background of the poem)

    His Majesty the Emperor expresses, as he did last year, in the poem his hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be contained.

    Last year, His Majesty composed the poem, praying that the peoples' hopes and efforts to overcome difficulties and challenges would bear fruit and thus the COVID-19 pandemic would come to an end.

    This year, His Majesty expresses in this poem his earnest hope that a day will come, once the pandemic is under control, when the comings and goings of people between Japan and the rest of the world will be revitalized.

    --

    Her Majesty the Empress:

    Looking through the windows

    Of the Fukiage Palace, our new residence,

    We enjoy the greenery

    Of the great trees around us

    (Background of the poem)

    In September of last year, Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko moved from their long-time residence the Akasaka Palace to the Fukiage Palace, where Their Majesties the Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita used to live for a long time until the year before last. Her Majesty the Empress composed this poem with renewed feelings of appreciation to Their Majesties the Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita, as she views the lush green from her new residence.

    --

    Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko:

    As I stand before

    The House of learning where I shall study in Britain,

    I feel the windows to the world

    Are opening up to me

    (Background of the poem)

    Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko participated in the Eton Summer School program during summer vacation when she was a second-year student at Gakushuin Girls' Senior High School. During the program, participants stayed at the dormitory of Eton College, and learned various aspects of British culture through English lessons and visits to museums and historical and cultural sites.

    This was the first time for Princess Aiko to visit schools overseas, and when she stood in front of the stately building with its long history, she felt that the world was opening up in front of her. In this poem she expresses her aspirations and expectations for the coming three weeks she was going to spend in the United Kingdom.

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