18 juli 2008

The Japanese emperor that once visited Leiden

When I first moved to my big girls' dorm on Leiden's famous Rapenburg, I noticed the newspaper clip on the Japanese emperor's visit to Leiden on the notice board of the house. It showed a picture of the emperor and the empress chatting with three female students of my dorm, something apparently seen as quite special by both the Japanese press and my Japanese friends who later visited me. They considered such an unscheduled, spontaneous step by the emperor very unusual.

And even though this occurred eight years ago, it is still remembered by many both in Japan and in the Netherlands. While in Japan last year I was even contacted by a journalist who was looking for the girls in the pictures because he wanted to interview them for an article about Akihito's rule. Also, Japanese tourists who had read about it in their guidebooks were often found touching the pole the emperor is touching in the picture.

When I came back from a trip to England last May, there suddenly was a gold-coloured plaque on the facade of my former house. It shows the famous newspaper picture of the emperor, his wife and the students. Although the story is kind of nice, I did not expect the plaque to become a tourist attraction for other people than Japanese visiting Leiden. But I was wrong, as apparently every guide that leads tourists along the Rapenburg stops in front of the house to tell the story. My former housemates are even considering selling t-shirts with the picture, and "I touched the pole"....

2 opmerkingen:

Jota zei

Well, some more to add to the 'pole' phenomenon. As you know, Mom, as a Spaniard I'm not Japanese nor Dutch... but I saw that picture in your mighty Rapbelles' and I can tell you it left an impression in me. It's been almost five years from my Leidenese erasmus life and i must confess that, not long ago, I spent quite a long afternoon trying to find the referred pic on the internet. With no result, I can tell.

Sweet surprise this one your blog had for me today :-)

PS: i missed you and Lidia LIKE HELL yesterday in Segovia...

Anoniem zei

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