“Japan’s new emperor is a musician and historian, both mild-mannered and quietly tenacious,” write Mari Yamaguchi and Kaori Hitomi in Tuesday’s (4/30) Associated Press. Naruhito, 59,  became emperor on May 1, succeeding his father, Emperor Akihito. “Naruhito, the first Japanese emperor to have studied abroad, is considered a new breed of royal … Keith George, 57, a friend of Naruhito’s since their days at Oxford … [recalls that he] played bluegrass and country music on the banjo, and Naruhito played the viola…. [Toshio] Shiraishi, a gray-haired banker who plays the cello, says the crown prince’s choice of instrument—viola—shows a lot about the kind of man he is. In an essay he contributed for a concert brochure, Naruhito once wrote: ‘I’m starting to understand the role of viola, which doesn’t stand out.… It’s a joy to have chosen the viola as a friend through which I could meet people and play music together.’ Naruhito is likewise both a good listener and conversationalist, Shiraishi said…. ‘He doesn’t want to be a star; instead he wants to be with people and work together.’ ”

Posted May 3, 2019