The royal couple took an early morning stroll at the Bada Gumbad Gardens and expressed interest in various trees and plants, especially the Asoka and the Peepul, pointing to them as they walked on the lawns. The national Bonsai park inside the gardens also caught their interest. “The Emperor took a lot of interest in the flora and fauna. He was very curious about the Asoka tree, because you know it was the Buddha who had carried the Asoka tree to Japan, so perhaps that was why he was interested,” said S K Mathur, Advisor, floriculture, NDMC, who was among those who escorted the royals around the garden.
“He was impressed with the Buddha coconut tree and wanted a plant of this. We are trying to work out something. He also expressed wish to have a plant of the Neem, a tree, of which every part, I told him, contained medicinal properties.”
As the royal couple entered the Lodhi Gardens, school children raised their right hands in a wiggle, a traditional Japanese greeting. Siddhartha Baman, a Class VIII student of Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, was among the lucky few who got to shake hands with the Emperor and speak with him. Among others present were former ambassadors to Japan and other dignitaries like Rajendra K Pachauri, chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Japanese royal couple’s visit comes 53 years after their trip to India as Crown Prince and Crown Princess in 1960, the first by an Emperor and Empress of Japan to any South Asian country. (PTI)