What would the emperor of Japan do if he could shed his weighty crown
for a day and roam freely among the common people?
Emperor Akihito, an avid scientist, said he sometimes wishes he had
more time to do research or "to take long walks."
But, busy though his official duties may keep him, he said he does not
spend much time thinking about being anything but what he is.
"There is nothing that comes to mind that I would like to hide my
status to do," he said Monday in a news conference ahead of a trip to the
Baltic states, Britain and Sweden.
Empress Michiko, meanwhile, admitted that she has sometimes wondered
what it would be like to have a cloak of invisibility. She recalled that
she once wanted to go to an art exhibit but had to stay at the palace
because of concerns over crowd control.
"It might cause problems for the police," she said.
Japan's royal couple will take a 10-day trip to Sweden, Britain and the
three Baltic countries.
On the last leg of their trip, Akihito and Michiko will go to
London to meet Queen Elizabeth II.
Concerns had been raised that the 72-year-old empress might not
be up to the trip. In March,
she suffered bleeding from the walls of her intestines, nose bleeds and
mouth ulcers. The palace said the illness was stress related. In the early
1990s, she was unable to speak for months after suffering a nervous breakdown , reportedly over
unflattering tabloid stories.
But Michiko said Monday she was fine.
"I have never had such an illness before, but I have gotten enough rest
and I am recovered," she said.