Japanese tourists retrace crown princess-to-be's steps

April 02, 1993|By Houston Chronicle

Little did the people in the tranquil Belmont, Mass., neighborhood where Masako Owada grew up suspect that having her become Japan's crown princess-to-be would turn into a royal hassle.

Suddenly, Japanese reporters and tourists started wandering secluded, winding Juniper Road, knocking on doors to ask where Ms.Owada lived when her diplomat father taught at Harvard.

"They've been coming constantly," said Esther Coconides, whose daughter owns the house the Owadas rented. "They wanted to come in and see the rooms she occupied."

It's been mostly reporters so far, but travel operators are forecasting an avalanche of Japanese tourists this summer eager to retrace their future empress' tracks.

BTC "Phone calls and faxes came flying across the ocean," right after Ms. Owada agreed to marry Crown Prince Naruhito in January, said Ashley McCown of the state Tourism and Travel Office. "Belmont was literally on the front pages of newspapers week after week. . . . They're on the map now."

A few agencies have, literally overnight, created a new &r Belmont-Cambridge package, that includes the areas where Ms. Owada attended high school and college, she said.

Prospective tourists have already laid out hundreds of thousands of yen for packages that may include a stop at the expansive grounds at Belmont High School, where Ms. Owada graduated in 1981. And operators are researching which restaurants she visited near Harvard before getting her degree in economics there in 1985.

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