A New Puppy to Comfort Princess Aiko
Last weekend, on a trip to the imperial ranch outside Tokyo, Princess Aiko, only daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako of Japan, happily showed her new puppy, Yuri, to the public. Princess Aiko entered the second grade at Gakushuin Primary School this April.
Sometime this year, Mari, one of the two dogs of the crown prince’s family, died. The dogs Mari and Pippi had already been living for many years with the crown couple, before Aiko was even born. In 1995, a stray dog had been found on the grounds of the Togu Palace where the family lives: the mother of Pippi and Mari. The childless crown couple took care of the little puppies, as soon as they were born, and grew very fond of them. In summer 2003, when the crown princess was already fighting against a looming depression (at that time still unbeknownst to the public) she said that “living with our two dogs Pippi and Mari … has always calmed and rejuvenated my spirit.” The two dogs were treated just like beloved family members.
As for Princess Aiko, they had been around ever since her birth in 2001 and she had never known life without them. Furthermore, she is, like all members of the imperial family, leading a very isolated life. Prince Naruhito said in February that he and his wife felt a strong necessity to provide their daughter “with so-called social experiences outside the Akasaka Estate and school” and that they “would appreciate it” if more privacy could be allowed to them. But as long as this is not the case, the loss of any member of this small circle must necessarily be felt very intensely.
Accordingly, when Mari died, the crown prince and the crown princess were very concerned about how their daughter would react. The crown prince told a press conference in February that Aiko had, of course, at first been very sad over the loss of Mari, but that her parents were relieved to see that she seemed to be able to contain her feelings relatively quickly: “While cherishing the memories of those days she spent with Mari, she is now playing with our other dog Pippi, and taking care of it.”
The prince thoughtfully added that, in a way, the dog’s death and the necessity to learn to deal with it might even turn out to be “another valuable experience” for his daughter. This would be in a line with the answer the prince had given before when having been asked about the crown couple’s educational principles for Aiko. He said: “We find it very important to nurture the spirit of sincerity and a sense of caring about others. Furthermore, we hope that she will by all means enjoy studying various subjects on her own, and discovering answers. Even at times when she does not reach tangible answers, we hope she will find joy in the process of working out answers.” In other words, the prince and princess are not trying to protect their daughter from reality but want to encourage her to face it and to find her own ways to deal with it. This obviously includes even such a frustrating and “very sad experience,” as the crown prince called it, of being separated from one’s beloved animal.
Separation, death and tears make all part of life and reality – but so do new friends, marking the beginning of life and laughter. Playing with her new puppy, Princess Aiko is now experiencing this lighter side of life. Goodbye, faithful Mari – and welcome, little Yuri!
On this page you will find a video of the crown prince’s family with the little dog.Filed under Japanese Royals
Tagged Animals, Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan, Crown Princess Masako of Japan, Pets, Princess Aiko of Japan.