Press Conference by His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince on the Occasion of His Birthday (Feb. 21, 2006)
From Kunaicho website
Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko will enter Gakushuin Kindergarten this spring. Please tell us about the recent growth of Her Imperial Highness. Looking back on Your Imperial Highness' own education you received as a member of the Imperial Family, please tell us of your plans for the education of Her Imperial Highness.
Princess Aiko is now four years old and she will attend Gakushuin Kindergarten starting this April. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to many people who are warmly watching over her. This year, she is experiencing various things through group activities with other children around her own age at the "National Children's Castle," and I think it has been a good opportunity for her to receive various educational stimuli. Furthermore, at my residence she continues to have gymnastic lessons and study music when the "National Children's Castle" is closed. I believe that engaging in activities with children of a slightly different age range is also meaningful.
Recently, she often plays games such as iroha-garuta and shinkei suijaku, and like the previous year, at this New Year's she pounded mochi, played Japanese card games, flew a kite, and played with a top. I believe Princess Aiko has been able to experience traditional Japanese play. Last year, through growing vegetables in the garden, I think that she was able to experience the joy of watching vegetables grow and then harvesting them. I was impressed to see her go down to the garden to water the plants every day. Now she is looking forward to picking strawberries. She took the products of her garden to Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress or gave them to friends, and she seems to enjoy sharing things with everyone.
I sometimes catch glimpses of her thoughtfulness toward us and the people around her. Even on the evening of the birthday of Princess Masako last December when Princess Masako was in bed with a cold, she visited Princess Masako's bedroom, bringing the Princess' birthday cake, in order to express her gratitude for the care that she had received when she had caught a cold before that. It also appears that at the "National Children's Castle" she lends a hand to children who are younger than her, saying, "When I could not do it, such and such a person helped me."
It is worth pointing out that on New Year's Day this year when we were going to the Imperial Palace, it seems that she saw all the reporters and other people standing at the gate and said, "Everyone is standing out in the cold, so I will wave my dog's paw at them."
She is also very interested in sumo wrestling. When she wrestles with us or our staff members, she reenacts the sumo wrestling techniques. She also reads the names of sumo wrestlers in kana in a book about sumo, and remembers well the first and last names of sumo wrestlers. For example, she remembers Yokozuna Asashoryu as "Asashoryu Akinori." She sometimes writes these names in hiragana. To be honest, she is better than me when it comes to the names of sumo wrestlers. When she watches sumo matches on TV, she comes up with phrases like, "Dare dare ni hoshi ga tsuita yo. Ureshiina. (I am happy that such and such a wrestler won.)" in seven-and-five syllable meter. I want to watch lovingly over her eagerness and independence, while cherishing her childlike curiosity and humor.
At the same time, I have heard that self-assertiveness gets stronger at the age of four. Nevertheless, the rules and manners of society are important, and I believe that it is important to gradually teach her and have her gain an understanding of these things. It is probably necessary to also share information about raising children with parents in our generation while valuing the advice of the generation of our parents, who have vast experience in parenting.
I believe that excursions are good chances for Princess Aiko to get to know the outside world. She also has more opportunities to greet guests when they visit our residence. From time to time we visit the Imperial Palace, and Princess Aiko appears to be always looking forward to going. She will be entering kindergarten shortly, and we would like to treasure the time that we have until then and allow her to have as much different experience as possible.
With regard to the education that Princess Aiko will receive as a member of the Imperial Family, I think it should be considered at a slightly later stage. At the time when I myself entered kindergarten, I believe that there was emphasis on my growing up as an individual child. Nevertheless, I remember that when I entered kindergarten, which was the first place where I experienced group learning, my parents, now Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress, went out of their way to help me in various ways. In particular, it seemed that they thought about various things such as the development of my physical strength so that I could have fun playing with other children after I entered kindergarten. This included things like having me jump, skip, run, or climb trees. They trusted the school policies, and I am grateful to them for entrusting the schools with everything.
My memories of my first year of kindergarten are fragmentary, but I still have them, so I am deeply moved by the fact that our child is approaching this age. Princess Masako is also devoted to child rearing, and we make sure that we have many opportunities to discuss things together. From here on, we will respect the educational policies of the teachers at Gakushuin Kindergarten, and hope that through playing with children of her own age at kindergarten Princess Aiko will learn various things including the rules of society and that she will grow up in good health.
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