Photo/IllutrationPrince Hisahito arrives at Paro Airport in Bhutan on Aug. 17. (Pool)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Prince Hisahito arrived in Bhutan on Aug. 17 on his first overseas trip, accompanied by his mother Crown Princess Kiko.

The visit was not an official one, but a private family affair. Hisahito, 12, who is second in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne, departed from Tokyo's Haneda Airport. His father, Crown Prince Fumihito, took a different flight. The itinerary was devised to reduce the risk of the first and second in line to the throne being involved in an accident at the same time.

Hisahito's parents have always said they wanted their son to travel overseas at a young age in order to broaden his outlook.

In a 2017 news conference, Fumihito said, "If the opportunity arises, I want him to go abroad because I believe it will be important for him to view Japan from there."

Hisahito is the only male member of the imperial family of his generation. His parents have taken him on various domestic trips and a family aide said, "They feel that his views toward Japan will change once he has experienced various foreign nations."

Imperial family members traditionally have made visits overseas before they reached adulthood.

Emperor Emeritus Akihito first went abroad when he was 19, but his son, Emperor Naruhito, visited Australia when he was in his third year of Gakushuin Boys' Junior High School in Tokyo. Fumihito also visited New Zealand in his third year at the same junior high school.

One of Hisahito's older sisters, Princess Mako, visited Thailand with her parents and later went on a home stay program in Vienna, Austria, while attending Gakushuin Girls' Junior High School.

Imperial Household Agency officials said Hisahito's first foreign trip came about as a result of an informal invitation from the Bhutanese royal family.

Naruhito, Fumihito and Kiko as well as their daughter Mako have all made separate official visits to Bhutan.

During his stay, Hisahito is scheduled to make a courtesy call on Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as well as visit the national museum and national archery ground.

Shinichiro Yamamoto, grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, said, "I believe it will be important (for Hisahito) to learn about the circumstances of various nations from a wide perspective in order to obtain a renewed appreciation for Japan, including its culture."