While Will Smith returning to Budapest was what dominated the local news last week, helped along with his gift of a free concert in the city center, we also had a quieter, perhaps more surprising visit. Rather than the ‘Fresh Prince’, we got a young princess, in the form of Princess Kako, from Japan, having flown in to visit with Hungarian president Janos Adar and celebrate 150 years of diplomatic ties between Hungary and Japan.
The official diplomatic lunch was held at Budapest’s famous Café Central, known as one of the primary hangouts of turn-of-the-century Hungarian writers, also attracting Japanese expat Juichiro Imaoka, a poet who also wrote the first Hungarian/Japanese dictionary. “I pay my respect to your efforts from the bottom of my heart,” she said to the assembled guests.
This was the first time the niece of Japanese Emperor Naruhito visited Hungary, and indeed her first trip from Japan in a diplomatic capacity. Staying at Budapest’s spectacular Four Seasons Gresham Palace Hotel, she toured around the city and countryside, visiting sites like UNESCO protected site of the banks of the Danube that run along Budapest. A horse lover, she also took the opportunity to visit the National Equestrian Museum and other horse-related locations, in the company of Hungary’s Minister of Agriculture. The trip was coupled with one to Vienna and came ten years after her parents -- the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan -- also visited the region.
With 600 or so Japanese businesses in Budapest, the community is large but not as visible as other non-Hungarian foreign communities. Perhaps because the restaurants that frequently act as a cultural bridge -- like with local Vietnamese for instance -- are still expensive by local standards. Still, we hope Princess Kako didn’t spend her time indoors, but rather taking in the spectacular beauty that Budapest offers all her visitors.
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