Japanese royals arrive for visit to Bulgaria


June 18, 2010 Updated May 13, 2009 at 2:11 PM EDT

Japan's Prince Akishino, the second son of Emperor Akihito, and his wife Princess Kiko arrived on a four-day visit to Bulgaria on Wednesday.

The royals' visit, their first to the Balkan country, comes on the 50th anniversary of restored diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Japan, after these broke during World War II.

The 43-year-old Akishino, second in line to the Japanese throne, and his wife were to meet with Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov and parliamentary chairman Georgy Pirinski on Thursday, before laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in downtown Sofia.

On Friday, the prince and Parvanov were to open a replica of a famous Thracian tomb, funded by the Japanese government, near Alexandrovo in southern Bulgaria.

The royal couple was to visit several museums and sights during its stay, including the golden-domed Alexander Nevski cathedral in Sofia and the Boyana Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

On the programme of the visit were also meetings with Bulgarian students of Japanese, as well as Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov and Bulgaria's former king and premier Simeon Saxe Coburg and his wife Margarita.

Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko are on a two-week goodwill tour of Europe that began in Austria and will also take them to Hungary and Romania.

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