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Crown Prince Naruhito guides blind Paralympian on run

He is preparing to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne in May of 2019, but that did not stop Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan from helping a blind Paralympian on a run.

One evening, the future Emperor of Japan wore a bib with “Guide” written on it as he and Misato Michishita, 41, ran around the Imperial Household’s Akasaka Estate in Tokyo on 26 June this year. Misato Michishita won silver in the 2016 Rio de Janiero Paralympic Games in the visually impaired women’s marathon.

On that evening in June, His Imperial Highness asked her, “Do you feel all right running like this?” as he led the athlete around the grounds of Akasaka Estate.

Crown Prince Naruhito held a yellow rope in his right hand as they ran around the 1.5-kilometre course.

When the pair came across a bumpy terrain, the Crown Prince was unsure of how to describe it to the Paralympian. Misato Michishita later remembered that he questioned to her, “What should I say in describing something like this?”

“We are turning to the right. The road is bumpy,” he said a few moments later.

At the completion of their run, the Crown Prince offered her something to drink to rehydrate.

She promised the Crown Prince that she would work “hard” to win gold in the 2020 Paralympics.

The idea for the run came about during a garden party last year where Misato Michishita was in attendance. She told His Imperial Highness then, “I wish to be able to run with you if there is an opportunity.”

The Crown Prince agreed, and that opportunity took place in June of this year.

Some have theorised that actions like these will become more frequent once he becomes Emperor of Japan. Those in Japan in agreement with this theory think Naruhito will encourage and support Imperial Family members being out with the public more.

Naruhito’s father, Emperor Akihito will abdicate on 30 April 2019, and Naruhito will ascend the throne the following day.

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