The Emperor's family entered the Nasu Imperial Villa in Tochigi Prefecture for a retreat for the first time in four years and enjoyed a stroll.

(* The second half of the article summarizes the "retreat" of the imperial family in detail in Q&A format)

Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan and their eldest daughter, Aiko, arrived at JR Nasushiobara Station in Tochigi Prefecture by bullet train just before 21 p.m. on the 3st and waved to the approximately 200 people who greeted them in front of the station.

His Majesty the Emperor said to the gathered children, "Please enjoy your summer vacation," and the Empress asked the children wearing goods that cooled their necks, "Is it cool?"

When asked by Aiko, a fourth-year university student, "Do you have a lot of homework?" a local sixth-grade boy said, "I felt that she was smiling and kind, and I hope to be proud of the conversation I was able to have with my friends."

Since they had refrained from recuperating in the countryside during the summer due to the spread of the new corona infection, it was the first time in four years that they stayed at the Nasu Imperial Residence, and the family enjoyed a walk on the grounds of the Imperial Residence after this.

When asked by the press what he thought of the summer retreat after a long absence, His Majesty the Emperor replied, "It's been four years, and I am happy to be able to come to Nasu Town, which is rich in nature," and the Empress replied, "I was very much looking forward to it. I love to relax in nature."

Aiko also said, "Nasu is really rich in nature, the air is very clean, and I feel refreshed, and I would like to work on various things in the remaining six months and second half of my university life."

The family will be staying at the Nasu Imperial Villa until the beginning of next month.

What is the "retreat" of the imperial family?

Stay in a summer resort and spend a relaxing time with your family in the rich nature. Retreat in rural areas, which had been held back due to the spread of the new coronavirus, has resumed for the first time in four years, and the annual contact with local people has returned.

What does "retreat" mean to the Imperial Family in a Q&A format based on interviews with the Imperial Household Agency and experts.

Q.What is the purpose of retreat?

A.A "retreat" where the Emperor's family and his wife leave the city center of Tokyo where they live and spend a certain period of time in the countryside to heal their physical and mental fatigue. The place of stay is mainly the imperial residence and the Imperial Household Agency's goryo farm in Takanesawa Town, Tochigi Prefecture, but you may also stay at private hotels.

The Imperial Residence is, so to speak, the villa of the Emperor and the Imperial Family.

Since the children of Emperor Meiji died one after another, it is said that they were installed to escape the heat and cold at the suggestion of samurai doctors, and there used to be more than 10 locations in mountainous cool areas such as Hakone and Nikko, as well as along the warm sea.

The Emperor was evacuated during the war to Numazu and Nikko, where the imperial residence is located.

There are still three in use: the Hayama Imperial Villa (Hayama Town, Kanagawa Prefecture), which is also known as the place where Emperor Showa ascended to the throne following the fall of Emperor Taishō, the Nasu Imperial Villa (Nasu Town, Tochigi Prefecture), where a hot spring was drawn and part of the facility was opened to people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the Suzaki Imperial Villa (Shimoda City, Shizuoka Prefecture) on the Izu Peninsula.

Nagoya University Hideya Kasai, Associate Professor

What is the role of retreat in the Imperial Family?

Associate Professor Hideya Kasai of Nagoya University, who studies the symbolic emperor system, points out the following.

"In today's air-conditioned world, the significance of staying in a land with a good climate where people can avoid the heat and cold to treat illness and maintain their health may have diminished, but the stress of being watched by the Emperor, the Emperor, and the Imperial Family is immeasurable for ordinary people. Under these circumstances, I think that spending time at a retreat away from everyday life is a valuable opportunity to refresh both physically and mentally."

Q.Can you interact with the general public at the retreat?

A.At the "standard retreat destinations" that are visited almost every year, such as the Imperial Residence, there are also points of contact with local people.

The coast of Hayama, the front of the stations in Nasushiobara and Shimoda, and the tennis courts of Karuizawa.

Many people may recall seeing people who have been in these places and old acquaintances to see different expressions than at official events.

Sometimes, you can visit the villas of old acquaintances near your retreat.

At a press conference, the Emperor once reflected on his memories of meeting and interacting with the locals at his retreat, and stated that both he and the Empress "feel happiest when we are accepted by the people as ourselves, rather than hiding our identity."

There are also opportunities for interviews at the retreat, which is a valuable opportunity for us media.

Do you all remember this scene during a retreat at the Goryo Farm in April?

2023/04/05 ※Click to play the video

In this scene, the Empress tried to look at the cherry blossoms pointed to by the Emperor and their heads collided, and the three of them, including Aiko, laughed together.

It is a scene unique to recuperation.

Q.What kind of place is Nasu Imperial Residence?

Nasu Imperial Villa (Main Residence)

A.The Nasu Imperial Residence, where the Emperor and his family have been staying since the 21st, is located at an altitude of 500~900 meters at the foot of the Nasu mountain range, which is a series of mountains of nearly 2000 meters.

Located near Nasu Yumoto Onsen, the vast site is 142 times the size of Tokyo Dome and nearly six times the size of the Imperial Palace, and includes the main residence built in Taisho 15 and the annex house built in Showa 10.

His Majesty the Emperor, who has enjoyed walking and climbing here since he was a child, has spent time with the Empress and Aiko climbing the mountains of Nasu and visiting nearby parks and tourist facilities even after his marriage.

When His Majesty the Emperor walked around the grounds of the Imperial Palace today, he revealed to the press that he and the Empress once set up a tent on the grounds of the Imperial Palace to see the starry sky and spent the night with the Empress in a sleeping bag.

In addition, Aiko revealed at a press conference last year that she fell asleep on the sofa on the porch on the night of the day she arrived at the Nasu Imperial Residence, and then left it as it was.

Q.What kind of place is Suzaki Imperial Residence?

Suzaki Imperial Villa

A.After consideration, the visit was not realized this summer, but the Suzaki Imperial Villa is also a standard retreat destination for the Emperor's family.

Built in Showa 46 after the government bought the land owned by the former Mitsui family, this imperial residence has a private beach where you can enjoy sea leisure without worrying about the eyes around you.

At the press conference when she reached adulthood, Aiko said, "I went to the Suzaki Imperial Villa in Shimoda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, and while swimming in the sea, I found a school of beautiful fish and watched it together, and although Suzaki is a calm sea with almost no waves, I floated a surfboard and challenged the three of us to sit there, and we all fell spectacularly. If we start talking, the sun might go down," he said, sharing his memories of his family trip.

Q.What kind of place is Hayama Imperial Residence?

Hayama Imperial Villa

A.The Hayama Imperial Residence, which is close to the Imperial Palace and has many opportunities to use, has become a base not only for mental and physical rest, but also for research.

Emperor Hirohito, whose life's work was the study of marine life, collected marine life for many years by going offshore on a ship and discovered a new species of hydrozoan.

The museum next to the Imperial Palace exhibits specimens of organisms collected by Emperor Showa.

Exhibits in the museum

Takuji Kuramochi of the Hayama Shiosai Museum, which was built on the site of the former Hayama Imperial Residence, said, "Emperor Showa Japan used the Hayama Imperial Residence, which is close to the Imperial Palace and has often stayed since he was a child, as a base for his research.

The Emperor, who has been working on research on the classification of gobies since his time as Crown Prince, also collected gobies around Hayama, where he visited for retreat.

Q.Speaking of summer retreats for the Emperor and his wife,

A.Speaking of summer retreats for the Emperor and his wife, Karuizawa is famous.
In the former Karuizawa area, there is a tennis court where the two of you first met in Showa 32, and until about 10 years ago, you played tennis here with your old tennis friends.

When I visited four years ago, I went to this court and sat on the bench and watched the members play.

After staying in Karuizawa, it was a standard practice to go to Kusatsu Town, Gunma Prefecture, about 4 kilometers away, and enjoy watching concerts.

Q.Do you take a break all the time during your retreat?

A.His Majesty the Emperor also performs official duties such as signing Cabinet documents at his retreat.

Staff from the Imperial Household Agency's entourage department, staff from the Ozen Section, and Imperial Palace Guards accompany the retreat site, and staff from the Cabinet Secretariat also visit the retreat site to deliver documents.

Last summer, the Emperor's family and the Emperor and his wife were considered for a summer retreat, but since many people would move even if it was a retreat, it was refrained from considering the burden on the local community in the event of an infected person.

Summer retreat has resumed after the new corona was moved to Class 5.

The Emperor's family and his wife, who have refrained from going out privately due to the corona disaster, will spend a relaxing time in a memorable place that they will visit for the first time in four years.