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Round up of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde State Visit to Japan

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde have ended their 5-day state visit to Japan today. Emperor Akihito invited the royal couple. Here’s a summary of all the most important activities.

Close Ties

The ties between Belgium and Japan are very close. But it is not only the two nations that are close. The Belgian Royal Family and the Japanese Imperial Family are known to have a very good relationship. It is said that Emperor Akihito considers King Philippe as a son. The last state visit from Belgium to Japan was in the nineties when King Albert II was still King of Belgium, and King Philippe accompanied him as Crown Prince. After nearly 20 years, it was time for another state visit. Furthermore, Japan and Belgium celebrate 150 years of diplomatic relations this year. Another fun fact is that King Philippe decided to fly with a normal plane in order to reduce the costs.


On October 10, the King and Queen arrived in Tokyo, Japan. After the long flight, their agenda wasn’t fully packed with engagements. After the official welcome, they headed to see the Nezu Shrine, one of Japan’s oldest shrines. However, the most important activity of the day was in the evening when King Philippe and Queen Mathilde met the Belgians living in Japan at the Belgian Embassy.


On day two, Their Majesties were welcomed by the Japanese Imperial Family. Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and the Crown Princely Couple Naruhito and Masako received their guests at the Imperial Palace of Tokyo. After the official ceremony, the royal couple split and persued a separate agenda. King Philippe promoted the economical ties between Belgium and Japan while Queen Mathilde worked on the cultural ties, promoted women empowerment and fashion. The day traditionally ended with a state dinner.


After two days in Tokyo, it was time to head to Yuki. Philippe and Mathilde were accompanied by the Emperor & Empress. There they attended a concert of school children and visited several projects on textile. In the evening, the King and Queen were received by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and his wife. They enjoyed a lovely dinner with their delegation.


On Thursday the royal couple headed to Nagoya on board of a Shinkansen train (high-speed train). There they promoted Belgian products, had meetings with the automobile industry and brushed up their art knowledge. Back in Tokyo, they attended a concert hosted by the Emperor & Empress. That evening it was also time to bid farewell to the Japanese Imperial Family. King Philippe thanked the family for their “warm welcome”.


On the last day of the official state visit to Japan, the King and Queen visited Osaka. There it was time to promote the Belgian tourism and chemical industry. They also saw a Japanese traditional play a “Noh theatre performance” at the Obuki Noh Theatre. Afterwards, King Philippe, Queen Mathilde and their delegation prepared to return home. No doubt the King and Queen’s four children – Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriël, Prince Emmanuel, Princess Eléonore – will be happy their parents are back home.


A state visit is always the perfect opportunity for a Queen to promote fashion. This was no different for Queen Mathilde. She is known to have a favourite designer in Edouard Vermeulen from Natan, and therefore she wears a lot of his creations. During the state visit to Japan, this was no different. However, Queen Mathilde was determined to show more than one Belgian designer. She wore Belgian designs from Ann Demeulemeester, Bernard Depoorter and Esmeralda Ammoun. It was important that Mathilde didn’t wear any white or yellow. White is the colour of mourning in Japan, and yellow is a holy colour reserved for the Emperor. Mathilde also didn’t pack any high heels because in the Japanese culture it is polite to curtsey at different occasions. Furthermore, because Mathilde is larger than the average Japanese person, it was easier not to wear high heels.

About author

Laura is from Belgium and has a passion for all things royal. She is Europe Correspondent for Royal Central since October 2016 and has contributed to other news websites. In her daily life she is a fulltime student in EU-politics and political communication.