Royals enjoy Japanese countryside

King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden have been visiting the Japanese countryside with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on the third day of their state visit.

After two days in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, the royal couple travelled with the imperial couple in a private carriage of a subway train to rural Kawagoe, a short distance from Japan’s capital.

The king and queen were met by thousands of Japanese, waving Swedish and Japanese flags. Carl Gustaf wore his customary blue-grey suit and a red patterned tie. Silvia wore a checked dress in grey, white and light brown.

The Swedish visitors were treated to a colourful Japanese show, with musicians in folk costumes and old wagons with traditional decorations.

The later part of the day was more reflective, including a visit to a Buddhist temple.

“This was something of the Japan I have been looking for, with these little old Japanese wooden houses. In Tokyo one can sometimes feel almost claustrophobic,” the king told news agency TT.

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt joined the royal couple in Japan on Wednesday for meetings with Japanese ministers. On Wednesday he met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“We spoke about the relationship between Sweden, Japan and Europe, but also about China and the United States. Japan is an important partner in East Asia,” Bildt told TT.