Members of Japan’s royal family made their first ever visit to Chicago this past weekend, which included a brief stop Saturday in Oak Park.
The Imperial Prince and Princess Hitachi visited Oak Park’s Unity Temple, 875 Lake St., and the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, 931 Chicago Ave., on Saturday. The Imperial Highnesses posed for pictures at both locations. They took no questions from the press.
This was the royal couple’s first visit to Oak Park and Chicago. Arriving in Chicago on Friday, the prince and princess also visited the Field Museum and the Art Institute.
The couple made a stop in Chicago en route to their visit to El Salvador and Nicaragua to mark the 70th anniversary of relations between the three countries.
The royal family specifically chose to visit the Wright Home and Studio. The renowned architect’s work is well known in Japan. He became interested in Japanese architecture during his trip to the country in 1905. He later designed several buildings in the country. Only three remain.
“They were very interested in learning about this American architect who was so well known in Japan,” said Julianna Greer, vice president for operations for the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.
The royal couple, who toured Wright’s former home and studio with a delegation of Japanese and American officials, seemed impressed, said Greer.
“They were graciously and sincerely interested,” she said. “This didn’t appear to be a political or ceremonial visit. They had made a personal selection to come to Oak Park.”
Prince Hitachi is the younger brother of Emperor Akihito. The prince and princess married in 1964.