Crown Princess

New Year Poetry Reading at Imperial Palace

On Thursday, the Imperial Palace hosted a formal New Year Poetry Reading, with this year’s theme being “light” (hikari). On this very formal occasion, the Emperor and Empresses read poems about walking in the gardens of their palace, the Crown Princess about walking in her garden in Akasaka, and the Crown Prince on seeing the sunlight from the top of Mount Fuji.

I was impressed by this very ritualized event celebrating the beauty of nature, the love of gardening, and the feelings evoked by the seasons. Although this blog most often celebrates ordinary peoples’ gardening efforts, this event reminds me that gardening in Japan permeates high society, artists and regular citizens, and is expressed in ritualized events and daily life.

Called waka, they are short poems of 31 syllables in a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern. The poems capture natural beauty that is both refined and open to anyone, regardless of palace ownership. Images include sunlight, trees, ponds, paths, grass, with feelings evoked by seasons and the time of day.

After the jump, I have included this year’s poems in English translation and Japanese (romanji).

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Crown Prince and Princess attend greening event in Yokohama

Crown Prince and Princess attend greening event in Yokohama

During Earth Day, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess participated in a Yokohama greening event. In his remarks, the Crown Prince cited the benefits of greening for reducing global warming and improving urban life. The event was the 20th Midori no Aigo in the Yokohama Animal Forest Park.

The media quoted two statements from the Crown prince: “I hope everyone involved in various activities throughout the nation will deepen mutual exchanges and renew their feeling of protecting and nurturing greenery.”

And “In order to protect the precious greenery we have … it is crucial for people to understand its importance and participate extensively (in conservation).”

The Prince and Princess also planted memorial cherry trees.