Japanese royal couple in Hawaii on first official US visit

HONOLULU — Prince Akishino, the second son of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, and his wife, Princess Kiko, are making their first official visit together to the United States.

The Japanese royal couple is in Hawaii this week as part of a yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants arriving in the islands.

Akishino laid a white wreath with peace lilies on Monday at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in remembrance of fallen US troops.

The couple was accompanied by cemetery director James Horton, and Adm. Phil Davidson, who recently became the commander of US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, the American military’s Pacific headquarters.

The prince also laid a second white wreath at Ehime Maru Memorial in downtown Honolulu’s Kakaako Waterfront Park, which commemorates Japanese lives lost when a US Navy submarine rammed into a Japanese fisheries training ship in 2001.

During their visit, the royal couple will also plant a tree in Thomas Square, visit the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and attend dinner with Gov. David Ige at his residence, Washington Place.

The Hawaiian-inspired menu features local ingredients with Japanese touches, such as oysters from Kualoa Farm served with yuzukosho, a Japanese condiment typically made of chilis, yuzu peel, and salt.

Other dishes include pipikaula short rib with meat from Kauai, a throwback to a spiced treat similar to beef jerky eaten by Hawaiian cowboys, and steamed moi, called “the king’s fish,” as only royalty were allowed to eat it, according to Cindy McMillan, a spokeswoman for Ige. The ogo, or seaweed, relish for the fish will contain herbs from the Washington Place garden.

The royals will also taste poke with locally-caught ahi tuna and feast on a dessert of miso-pecan ice cream — all dishes created by Honolulu chef Chris Kajioka of city restaurants Vintage Cave and Senia

Emperor Akihito announced in December that he would abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne at the end of April 2019, after reigning for 30 years. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, is expected to succeed the following day. Akishino, 52, would then take on the role of crown prince.

Akihito has one daughter, Sayako Kuroda, who married a commoner and gave up her title of princess in 2005. Women are not allowed to ascend the throne.

The royal couple visited Brazil in 2015 and Chile in 2017 to mark the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.          /kga

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