Japan’s Emperor, Empress Plant Cherry Tree During Visit to Oxford Alma Maters; Emperor Praises ‘Rich Opportunities’ Oxford Colleges Gave to Imperial Couple (Update 1)

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Emperor and Empress talk with Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko after arriving at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Saturday evening.

OXFORD, England — The Emperor and Empress visited their alma mater colleges of the University of Oxford on Friday evening and planted a cherry tree to commemorate the occasion.

It marked the first time the Imperial couple visited their alma mater colleges together.

The Emperor studied at Merton College from 1983 to 1985, and the Empress studied at Balliol College from 1988 to 1990 while she was a Foreign Ministry official.

When the warden of Merton College, who was the couple’s guide, asked the Emperor if he remembered the college’s buildings, the Emperor pointed them out while reminiscing. It was the Emperor’s first visit to the college since 2001.

The Imperial couple then planted a cherry tree in the college’s garden to commemorate their visit.

The Emperor and Empress walk in procession, following a ceremony where the Empress received an honorary degree, in Oxford, Britain, on Friday.

They also attended a luncheon at Balliol College. The Emperor gave a speech to the attendees, who included some of the Empress’ former teachers, according to the Imperial Household Agency. He said the couple cherishes the incomparably rich opportunities and wonderful memories that the University of Oxford has given to them.

The Empress was awarded an honorary degree from the university, with the couple donning black hats and red gowns for the ceremony.

The Emperor and Empress arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Saturday evening.