Thursday, May 24, 2007

There are few rulers more burdened with care than Emperor Akihito of Japan

To plenty of his own people as well as to foreigners, there has always been something cosily reassuring about Emperor Akihito of Japan. Like many monarchs, he and Empress Michiko have cultivated a personal style over the years, as practised and familiar in its own way as the British Royal Family’s handbags, corgis and stiff G&Ts.
There are his double-breasted suits and her old-fashioned hats, as smart as they are unfashionable. There is their public demeanour, one of intense solicitousness and earnest courtesy, without a trace of aristocratic hauteur. And then there are the Emperor’s enthusiasms – his love of tennis, of the cello, and, above all, his passion for a small, unglamorous fish called the goby.