A Look Back at Prince Hisahito’s Elementary School Years

Society

With the graduation of the eldest son of Prince and Princess Akishino from Ochanomizu University Elementary School, the Imperial Household Agency published seven photos from his school years, together with his graduation essay containing an important message about humans and nature.

Prince Hisahito Graduates

Prince Hisahito, the eldest son of Prince and Princess Akishino, graduated from Ochanomizu University Elementary School on March 15, 2019.

At Ochanomizu University Elementary School, March 15 (Bunkyō, Tokyo). (© FNN)
At Ochanomizu University Elementary School, March 15 (Bunkyō, Tokyo). (© FNN)

During the graduation ceremony, the 113 graduating students came forward one by one to receive their certificates, including Prince Hisahito, who responded heartily when his name was called.

After the ceremony, the prince appeared before reporters together with his parents. There he thanked the members of the press who congratulated him on his graduation.

Special Memories from His School Years

To mark Prince Hisahito’s graduation, the Imperial Household Agency released seven photos of him at school events, from grade one through six, together with an essay he composed entitled “Humans Exist in the Realm of Nature,” which was published in the school’s commemorative graduation album.

First Grade Concert, November 2013

During the grade one students’ performance of the “Birthday Song,” he joined his friends in responding when his birthday month of September was sung.

The royal first-grader performs energetically during the “Birthday Song.”
The royal first-grader performs energetically during the “Birthday Song.”

Third Grade Sports Day, May 2015

 The prince’s beaming smile after finishing the team relay race. For this Sports Day, the prince also joined in two-rope Double Dutch skipping.
The prince’s beaming smile after finishing the team relay race. For this Sports Day, the prince also joined in two-rope Double Dutch skipping.

Fourth Grade Concert, November 2016

He was in the hand-chime ensemble for the second year running.
He was in the hand-chime ensemble for the second year running.

Fifth Grade Outdoor Education, August 2017

The prince attended the school’s Outdoor Education camp, near Lake Shirakaba, Nagano Prefecture, enjoying orienteering, campfire cooking, and other activities with his friends. They also tried wood-chopping.
The prince attended the school’s Outdoor Education camp, near Lake Shirakaba, Nagano Prefecture, enjoying orienteering, campfire cooking, and other activities with his friends. They also tried wood-chopping.

Taking a break with friends in the Kurumayama highlands. The prince experienced camp life and the natural setting of the Outdoor Education event in Nagano Prefecture.
Taking a break with friends in the Kurumayama highlands. The prince experienced camp life and the natural setting of the Outdoor Education event in Nagano Prefecture.

Sixth Grade Outdoor Education, August 2018

The school’s Outdoor Education was held in Urabandai Highlands, Fukushima Prefecture. The prince and his friends went trekking near Oguni Pond, where they learned about wetlands.
The school’s Outdoor Education was held in Urabandai Highlands, Fukushima Prefecture. The prince and his friends went trekking near Oguni Pond, where they learned about wetlands.

Dressed in a raincoat on the wet latter half of the trekking. On this excursion, the students visited the historic Nisshinkan, formerly the school of the Aizu clan, in Aizu-Wakamatsu, and tried Zen meditation.
Dressed in a raincoat on the wet latter half of the trekking. On this excursion, the students visited the historic Nisshinkan, formerly the school of the Aizu clan, in Aizu-Wakamatsu, and tried Zen meditation.

The Prince’s Graduation Essay

The prince’s essay, signed Prince Hisahito of Akishino, is entitled “Humans Exist in the Realm of Nature.” Following are excerpts from his contribution to the graduation album.

My six years at Ochanomizu Elementary School have given me so many memories. I would like to look back at some of them.

In first grade, I enjoyed playing at the Lion Lake every day, observing the plants and insects in the field. I can remember when we were given a range of study topics in our “free choice” hours and could choose the one that we liked. I chose “discovering the seasons.” For this topic, I had to express our thoughts about each season in words and pictures. In spring, I went looking for cherry blossoms and tadpoles. The act of searching for signs of the changing seasons in the school grounds and the university campus was important to help me learn about Japan’s seasons and natural environment.

In our later years, the exercise format is changed, requiring us to hunt for specific flowers and trees on the expansive university campus. Unlike the “discovering the seasons” project for younger students, in later years, students form groups and can roam freely about the campus, relying on their own sense and memory to locate the plants. Consequently, it is important for the group to work in unison and cooperate. Also, we had a time limit, so we needed to constantly focus on a range of things. After we finished orienteering, our teacher gave a lesson about the flowers and trees. This all let me experience and enjoy the nature that surrounds us.

In third grade and later, free choice becomes “independent study.” In the earlier years, we had to study our topic within a set time frame, but independent study allows the students to spend much longer tackling topics of their choosing, and we can pursue our interests further.

For my independent study, I researched the municipalities of Tokyo. I read publications from the municipalities at our school library, where I also referred to books about Tokyo’s history, so that I could write about the history and products of each place. It takes more time, because you need to plan what materials you need to search for, then to investigate and summarize your findings. But because we could research any topic we like, many of the students, myself included, enjoyed the time immensely.

From fourth grade, we had to present our independent study outside the class and interact with other students researching similar topics. For that, we prepared posters and charts, figuring out how best to help everyone understand our findings. By listening to the presentations of our friends and discussing the content, I learned the importance of giving clear explanations.

There were many other things I enjoyed at Ochanomizu Elementary, and many wonderful moments. The school has a lot of greenery. We also tackled various topics with students from other grades, which gave us opportunities to learn more and make new discoveries. I feel that many of the experiences have helped me grow stronger.

In the future, I hope that I can use what I learned through my experiences at Ochanomizu Elementary and continue to value those things that are of interest to me.

Onward to Junior High

Beginning in April 2019, Prince Hisahito is attending Ochanomizu University Junior High.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the prince chose this school partly because it builds upon the educational policies of the elementary school, placing value upon developing self-sufficiency and independence, with the educational goal of emphasizing a broad perspective. Other reasons for his choice included the prince’s fondness for the location, where he spent the previous nine years, including his preschool years, the natural setting of the campus, and his relationships with friends.

Ochanomizu University is a women’s college, and the senior high school is only open to girls, so after junior high, Prince Hisahito will proceed to a different school. In the meantime, though, the three years that he spends there are certain to be important for his development.

(Originally published in Japanese on FNN’s Prime Online on March 15, 2019. Written by Fuji TV News Analyst Hashimoto Hisashi.Translated and edited by Nippon.com. All photos courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency except where otherwise noted. Banner photo: Prince Hisahito flanked by his parents at his elementary school graduation ceremony. © FNN.)

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