A Brief History of Japan-Nepal Relations
The cultural ties between Nepal and Japan date back to much earlier days before direct people to people contact started in 1899, when Reverend Ekai Kawaguchi, a Japanese Zen Buddhist pundit and ascetic, visited this country on his way to Tibet. It is certain that ancient Japanese intellectuals who read a travelogue written by Xuan Jiang, a famous Chinese monk and philosopher of the Tang Dynasty 1300 years ago, should have come across an account of the old Kathmandu valley during the reign of King Amsuvarman of the Licchavi Dynasty.
It goes without saying that Japan and Nepal share a lot of similarities in terms of culture, religion, and even in terms of sentiment. People will be surprised to see how many of the deities worshipped by the Japanese, for example, are also Nepalese deities. The traditional culture of Nepal and Japan are closely linked together through the underground stream of history, which permeates both our cultures. Besides, Nepal has always attracted Japanese visitors with its lush, verdant vegetation, as well as with its incredibly multifarious vistas, replete with their respective flora and fauna. It should also be noted that the first students dispatched abroad in 1902 by Chandra Shamsher Rana, the then prime minister of Nepal, were those who came to Japan.
The post World War Two period witnessed the rapid strengthening of this friendship at different levels. Since 1952, the Himalayas have lured waves of Japanese mountaineering teams. Diplomatic relations were established on September 1, 1956, ensued by the opening of the Royal Nepalese Embassy in Tokyo in 1956, and the Japanese Embassy in Kathmandu in 1968.
Another chapter of our cordial relationship was opened by the exchange of Royal visits and high-level official interactions of both our countries. Their Majesties King Mahendra and Queen Ratna visited Japan in 1960. In the same year, Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko (present Emperor and Empress) visited this country. The Imperial couple visited twice. The visit of the late Royal Highness, Crown Prince Dipendra, to Japan still lingers in the hearts of the Japanese people. The recent exchange of visits made between the prime ministers of both countries, namely Mr. G.P. Koirala and Mr. Mori, was another milestone in the history of friendly relations between our two countries.