Poem by Princess Aiko recited at annual poetry ceremony

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Emperor and the Empress attend the utakai hajime poetry recital at the Imperial Palace on Tuesday.

The annual utakai hajime poetry recital was held at the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday. The theme of this year’s event was “mado,” or window.

The event featured recitals of waka poems by the Emperor, the Empress, members of the Imperial family, and literary critic Akimasa Kanno, 92, who was specially invited by the Emperor, as well as poems by 10 members of the public that were selected from among 13,830 entries.

The poems, each with 31 syllables, were recited in a traditional chanting style.

The Imperial couple’s daughter Princess Aiko, who has become an adult member of the Imperial family since turning 20 on Dec. 1, contributed a poem for the event for the first time but did not attend the ceremony because of her school studies.

About 100 members of the public are usually invited to the event, but only five people were invited this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Raito Namba, a first-year student at Tokyo Gakkan Niigata High School in Kamo, Niigata Prefecture, the youngest among the 10 poets selected from among the public, did not attend the ceremony for health reasons.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Emperor composed a poem expressing his wish for the end of the coronavirus crisis and the return of times when people, who have been dispirited due to the pandemic, will be able to come together again.

The poem by the Empress was about the appreciation she felt while looking out of the window of the Imperial residence that she moved into in September, and her renewed gratitude to the Emperor Emeritus and the Empress Emerita, who lived in the residence for many years.

Princess Aiko composed a poem in which she touched on her experience at a summer school in England in her second year of high school and expressed her excitement about hopes that the world is going to open up.