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Feb 1970 A time when ramen shops did not exist here, and Japan was seen as some quaint private kingdom whose people liked wearing socks with their slippers. So imagine the stir created by the then Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko, who dropped in on Singapore for their first official state visit. The royal couple visited the Botanic Gardens; planted a cycad tree in a spot in Jurong Town that is now the Japanese Garden; and paid a courtesy call on the first president Yusof Ishak and First Lady Puan Noor Aishah. What struck most was the kimono poise and pedigree of the Crown Princess - daughter of a wealthy industrialist but still considered a commoner who met her Prince Charming on a tennis court in Karuizawa in 1957. Little did she know that she had set in motion the wheels of Singapore's fascination with Japan that show no signs of stopping.