The Duke of Cambridge arrived in Tokyo this morning, beginning his seven-day tour of Japan and China.
Prince William arrived on a scheduled flight into Tokyo’s Henada International Airport at around 16:00 local time (GMT+9), and was met by the British Ambassador to Japan, Tim Hitchens, alongside the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Governor, Yoichi Masuzoe.
Amidst the pouring rain, The Duke transferred onto a limousine boat before being sped through Tokyo Harbour. During the journey, William was shown the locations of where some of Toyko’s 2020 Olympic sites will be built before passing under the city’s landmark Rainbow Bridge.
The tour marks His Royal Highness’s first visit to the region and is being undertaken at the request of Her Majesty’s Government, with the aim of strengthening partnerships between the UK and both Japan and China.
Following The Duke’s arrival into Tokyo Harbour, he was given a tour of the historic Hama Rikyu Gardens, a large landscape garden in the centre of Tokyo.
Sitting alongside Tokyo Bay, the garden plays host to a number of seawater ponds which change level with the tides as well as a restored Tea House in the middle of Nakashima, an island in the garden’s pond.
Prince William was escorted around the grounds, taking in the scenery, before being served Green Tea in the traditional way by a Grand Master. The ceremony, considered a sign of respect in Japan, acts as an official welcome to Japan.
The garden itself dates back to 1654 when the forth Tokugawa Shogun built a residence on the reclaimed land. By the time that 11th Shogun, Ienari, was ruler in 1787, the garden was finishe,d and today’s layout has remained almost identical to the original.
The Great Kanto Earthquake and bombings throughout the Second World War caused a huge amount of damage to a number of the buildings and trees. The garden was unrecognizable in 1945 when the Imperial family gave the garden to the City of Tokyo.
One year later, it became open to the public in April 1946 before being designated as a famous site with high historical significance on 22nd November 1952.
Alongside the Japanese Imperial Family, the site also has British Royal connections. It was in the garden that Prince Alfred, the first British Royal, arrived in Japan in 1869 to be received as one of the country’s first VIP foreign visitors by the teenage Emperor Meiji, after its original opening.
Prince William will spend the evening privately at the British Ambassador’s Residence before beginning his first full day of engagements tomorrow.
Royal Central will be providing ongoing extensive coverage of The Duke’s tour of Japan and China and you can follow the site here. Updates will also publish using the hashtags #RoyalVisitJP and #RoyalVisitChina in Japan and China, respectively.
Image Credit: Franek N
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