Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko’s Final Engagements

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan have been very busy in the days leading up to the Emperor’s Abdication on April 30th, undertaking a series of engagements to mark the end of the Heisei era, which we are featuring today!

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On April 13th, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited a special exhibition on the 30th Anniversary of their reign at Nihombashi Takashimaya Shopping Center in Tokyo, which was followed by a visit to the Empress’ former home, which is now the Nemunoki Garden. Two days later, the Emperor hosted a tea party for 50 members of the House of Representatives and House of Councillors at the Imperial Palace.

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On the 17th, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko travelled to the city of Ise, Mie Prefecture, where the following day, they reported the abdication and worshipped at the Outer and Inner shrines of Ise Grand Shrine, which is dedicated to sun goddess Amaterasu, the ancestral deity of the Imperial family. They were joined by their daughter, Sayako Kuroda, the supreme priestess at Ise Grand Shrine who was celebrating her 50th Birthday that day. The Emperor and returned to Tokyo the following afternoon.

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On the 23rd, the Emperor and Empress reported his abdication to the Mausoleum of Emperor Showa (Hirohito) at Musashi Imperial Graveyard in Hachioji, and later visited Takao Mikoromo Seido, a temple for victims of work accidents. The following day, Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino visited the Imperial Palace in the morning for their monthly 3-way talks with Emperor Akihito, the last monthly discussion before the abdication.

On April 25th, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the Luxembourg Embassy in Tokyo to offer condolences on the passing of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who passed away on the 23rd. Meanwhile, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako visited the Imperial Palace for rehearsals of May 1st Kenji-to-Shokei-no-gi and Sokui-go-Choken-no-gi ceremonies.

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On the 26th, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attended the 13th MIDORI Academic Prize ceremony and reception at the Parliamentary Museum in Tokyo, which was their last official engagement outside the Imperial Palace before the abdication and the final official engagement of the Heisei era.

And with that Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko bid farewell, as they retire from public duties after the Abdication next week! I’ve been following the Imperial Couple for the past few years, and have been touched by their quiet, dignified presence. I wish them a very happy and peaceful retirement!

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