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Naruhito reveals love of fish and chips and pubs

February 2, 2006
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These days, as heir to the Chrysanthemum throne, Crown Prince Naruhito inhabits a world far distant from his days as a graduate student at Oxford in the mid-Eighties. But the proletarian pursuits he was introduced to during his student days clearly made a deep impression on the Japanese royal.

Recalling his university sojourn in his memoirs, the Emperor's son reveals a love for vinegar-drenched fish and chips and pub crawls. He also recounts the humiliation he suffered after being barred from a nightclub for wearing the wrong sort of trousers.

Originally published 13 years ago, but only recently translated into English, The Thames And I chronicles what the prince describes as "the happiest time" of his life. The relatively anonymous 'Hiro', as he styled himself, was able to enjoy a period of unparalleled freedom in which he did his own laundry, made trips to the bank and took tea with the staff of his local photographic supplies store.

The Emperor-to-be also reveals he was keenly aware of the exceptional opportunity which living a semi-normal existence in Oxford offered. "It would be impossible in Japan to go to a place where hardly anyone would know who I was," he says, adding poignantly: "It is really important and precious to be able to go privately at one's own pace where one wants."

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Photo: ©
Swapping the rarified atmosphere of the Japanese royal family for life as a student in Britain was an eye-opener for the Emperor's son, but he described that period as "the happiest time" of his lifePhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
In May 2001 the crown prince revisted his old stomping ground, dropping by Oxford's Trout Inn with Professor Jessica Rawson, the warden of his former collegePhoto: © AFP

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