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REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Welcoming a new era.
ENTER REIWA

Photos: Japan welcomes a new emperor and empress

By Adam Rasmi

Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, formally ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne today. His 85-year-old father, Akihito, yesterday became the first leader in two centuries to step down, citing ill health. He is now Emperor Emeritus.

Akihito was a beloved figurehead, whose three-decade-long rule provided stability during events such as the 2011 tsunami, which killed thousands. He traveled extensively as a diplomat for Japan, and together with his wife broke tradition by interacting with the public.

Nahurito will have to balance the traditions of the throne while continuing to modernize it as his father did.

Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Flags celebrating the new age, Reiwa, are hung around Tokyo.

The ascension sees the start of a new era for the country called Reiwa, and has been marked by a 10-day long holiday. Japanese citizens flocked today to Tokyo, and iconic sites such as the Meiji Shrine, where free sake was given out.

Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Naruhito waves as he arrives at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

The ascension ceremony saw Nahurito, 59, accept a range of lavish regalia, including a sacred sword, the state seal, and the imperial seal. The newly-anointed Empress Masako was absent from the ritual, which bars royal women from attending, although one female cabinet member was in attendance. Masako later joined Nahurito as he addressed the nation.

Imperial Household Agency of Japan/Handout via Reuters

Masako is a popular figure in Japan, despite having stepped away from the public spotlight after being diagnosed with a stress-related mental illness in 2004. She said in December she would step up her public duties. The couple have a daughter, Aiko, born in 2001. Masako reportedly faced immense pressure to have a son in order to continue the royal line.

Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Some used the occasion to protest Japan’s imperial system.

Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The event also gave fans of the royal family the opportunity to show off their collection of memorabilia. Below, Fumiko Shirataki displays her collection of royal photographs.

Reuters/Issei Kato
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