Is it the Dutch air or the escape from the stiffling atmosphere at the Imperial Court that helped Japanese Crown Princess Masako to regain some self confidence? Masako made only here second trip out of Japan since 2002 when she accompanied her husband Crown Prince Naruhito to Amsterdam last April, for the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander.
The visit did Masako a world of good, not in the least because her parents live in The Netherlands and she was able to visit with them while Naruhito attended a dinner at Amsterdam's famous Rijksmuseum hosted by Willem-Alexander's mother Queen Beatrix. The Dutch shielded Masako from prying eyes, just as they had done when she spent a 2-week vacation with her husband and daughter Princess Aiko a couple of years earlier.
Masako, her husband said in his birthday press conference last week, “has strived to take up as much activities as possible.” But that doesn't mean she has completely recovered. “I hope that she will start with things she can do and proceed slowly,” the Crown Prince said. More foreign trips would help, Naruhito suggested and they might also benefit Princess Aiko. Unlike their European counterparts who travel freely and at will, the imperial family is restricted in its travel and must ask for permission before leaving the country.