Holding her daughter Aiko, the crown princess and her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, return to Tokyo after a ten-day mountain retreat
Photo: AFP

Masako had appeared in public for the second time in a month on September 24 (above), after being out of the public eye for nearly a year
Photo: AFP

4 OCTOBER 2004

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After a long period away from the spotlight, Japan's Crown Princess Masako seems to be on the road to recovery from a stress-induced illness, appearing in public for the third time in the past month.

Masako, dressed in a dark suit and carrying her daughter Aiko, was accompanied by her husband Crown Prince Naruhito as they arrived at Nasu-Shiobara train station north of Tokyo, ready to return home from a brief getaway. The threesome had spent the past ten days at a royal mountain retreat, where the princess was said to be continuing treatment.

The crown princess, diagnosed as suffering from an "adjustment order", was greeted by throngs of well-wishers at the same station as she began the family respite on September 24. On the same day, the Imperial Household Agency released a rare home video of Masako and Aiko, shot by the crown prince at the royal palace in May.

Early in September, the 40-year-old royal, in seclusion at her home, briefly emerged to visit her in-laws, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, on a "purely private" excursion. At that time the grand master of the crown prince's household was quoted as saying: "Such visits outside by the crown princess are part of her treatment. We are now in a very important period that determines whether she will head towards recovery."

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