Prince William
The Duke of Cambridge received a warm welcome from children waving flags as he arrived for his officiial tour of Japan and China. AFP / Getty Images

Prince William has arrived in Japan for a four-day visit to the country.

Arriving at Haneda airport in the early hours of the morning, he headed straight for Tokyo, kicking off his official tour with a guided boat limousine trip to the city's famed landmarks including the 2020 Olympic site and the Rainbow Bridge.

The Duke of Cambridge was greeted by a crowd of Union Jack flag-waving children and a brass band as he stopped off at the historic Hama Rikyu Gardens.

William was undeterred by the rain and, accompanied by Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, walked through the ancient gardens that were once the private villa of a feudal lord until the 19th century.

Prince William
Prince William takes part in a traditional tea ceremony in Hama Rikyu Gardens. AFP / Getty Images

The ceremony took place in the same tea house used to welcome Prince Albert during his visit to the country in 1869.

The Prince was then treated to a traditional Japanese green tea ceremony, hosted by a Grand master. Watched by the media he drank the "thin tea" known as "usucha" from an antique Korean bowl. "I don't want to drop it," he joked.

He was then shown around the picturesque Edo-era style plot, with sculpted pine trees and ornate wooden bridges running over several lakes.

The evening will be spent privately at the British Ambassador's official residence.

Prince William
Prince William walks over a traditional Japanese bridge in Hama Rikyu Gardens with Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe on the first day of his visit to Japan. AFP / Getty Images

William's trip is aimed at highlighting British links with Japan and China will focus on promoting innovation, trade and creativity.

Sue Kinoshita, Director of UK Trade and Investment in Japan told Sky News that both nations benefit from the longstanding relationship. "Something like 1,300 Japanese companies have got either manufacturing, research and development or other facilities in the UK employing about 150,000 people, so that's really significant for the UK economy and it's great to have someone here from the Royal family giving that profile as well," she explained.

His hectic schedule includes meetings with Japan's Emperor Akihito and Crown Prince Naruhito. He will also travel to Fukushima, the centre of a nuclear meltdown triggered by the 2011 tsunami.

Prince William
Prince William stands with Mr Yoichi Masuzoe the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Governor on the stern of a boat as he tours the Tokyo Bay area. AFP / Getty Images

The trip to Fukushima is the focus of controversy however, with critics claiming that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is 'using' the royal visit to Fukushima to further his own aims presenting an image of a town rehabilitated after the tragedy.

The earthquake that triggered a tsunami left 9,000 people dead and tens of thousands displaced. Tokuo Hayakawa, a Buddhist priest from the town of Naraha, two miles from the Fukushima plant, told The Times: "I think Abe is using him [William]. It's true that you can find children playing outside, and you can eat some Fukushima food. But to take that as the overall reality here is totally wrong. If I could, I would take him to these abandoned ghost towns, and to the temporary houses where people still live, so he could see the reality that we are facing."

The 32-year-old Prince will also visit other areas devastated by the March 2011 tsunami to pay his respects to those who died and offer support to the survivors of the tragedy.

Japan and the UK have shared cordial relations for decades, and the British royals have always been popular figures in Japan.

William in particular is a favourite of the Japanese public much like his mother Diana, whose visits to Japan in 1986 and 1995 sparked what was dubbed 'Diana fever'.

The Prince's wife Kate Middleton, meanwhile, has remained at home with Prince George. The couple had previously travelled together to New York on their first official royal visit to the American city.