Emperor, empress talk with Olympic medalists

October 26, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko chatted with London Olympic medalists during an autumn party at the Akasaka Gyoen imperial garden in Tokyo’s Minato Ward on Oct. 25.

About 1,700 guests attended the event hosted by the imperial couple, including wrestler Saori Yoshida, 30, who has won three straight Olympic golds and 10 consecutive world championships.

“You must have continued practicing hard,” the emperor told Yoshida, who will receive the People's Honor Award.

The female wrestler replied, “It was good that I kept working without quitting.”

The emperor also praised Kaori Matsumoto, a 25-year-old judoka who also won a gold medal in the London Games.

“It was good that you won the gold medal as there are now many strong judoka in the world,” the emperor told her.

In response, Matsumoto said, “I gained valuable experience and have become better.”

Voice actress Midori Kato introduced herself to members of the imperial family by saying, “I am Sazae.”

The 72-year-old has provided the voice for Sazae Fuguta in the popular TV animation series “Sazae-san” for more than four decades.

Kato said Crown Prince Naruhito told her, “Our family watches it.”

“I was greatly moved,” Kato said.

(This article was written by Ryuichi Kitano and Yasuhiko Shima.)

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko speak to judoka Kaori Matsumoto, right, and wrestler Saori Yoshida, second from right, in the Akasaka Gyoen imperial garden in Tokyo on Oct. 25. (Hiroki Endo)

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko speak to judoka Kaori Matsumoto, right, and wrestler Saori Yoshida, second from right, in the Akasaka Gyoen imperial garden in Tokyo on Oct. 25. (Hiroki Endo)

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  • Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko speak to judoka Kaori Matsumoto, right, and wrestler Saori Yoshida, second from right, in the Akasaka Gyoen imperial garden in Tokyo on Oct. 25. (Hiroki Endo)

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