Yuri: A Right Royal Rescue DogImperial Family Society
The pup that often appears in photos with Japan’s new emperor and the imperial family is piquing people’s interest.
This royal canine is called Yuri; she was born in 2009, making her now 10 years old. She joined the imperial family at two months old, when adopted as a rescue dog from an animal hospital. Rather than having a highly regarded pedigree, she is a mixed breed.
Before Princess Aiko was born, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako kept two dogs. A dog that had strayed into the Akasaka Estate gave birth to 10 puppies. Eight of them were given to Imperial Household Agency members and the smallest two, a female and a male, were taken in by the couple—then crown prince and crown princess—who named them Mari and Pippi.
On press conferences on his birthday and other occasions, Naruhito often talks about his dogs. At the conference for his birthday in 1999, he spoke about how walking a dog was good for the health. He added that he attached the lead to his waist when he went jogging; however, he was unfortunate once to cross paths with a cat, which the dog chased after, pulling him along.
At a 1998 press conference on the occasion of her birthday, Masako mentioned that having dogs was very good for the couple’s relationship, helping them to avoid quarrels.
At the 2013 IHA staff culture and art festival, Princess Aiko presented a miniature market stall laden with collars and clothes for pets, with two dogs sitting in front. Up to then, her father had spoken of Princess Aiko’s love of animals; however, this carefully handcrafted piece conveyed the special affection she has for cats and dogs.
Since her birth, Yuri has made regular appearances in official photos released on the occasion of family members’ birthdays. For Naruhito and Masako’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in 2018, a photo was released showing the smiling couple together with Yuri. In the written statement released by the IHA for the occasion, the empress mentions that over the years they have cared for a number of rescue cats and dogs, and that these family members have played an important role in providing peace and warmth for them all.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Then Crown Princess Masako waves Yuri’s paw to passersby in August 2009. © Jiji.)