Imperial Couple return home after Big Island hula sendoff

Kyodo News

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko returned to Japan on Friday evening following their 15-day visit to Canada and Hawaii, during which they met many people of Japanese descent.

The Imperial Couple arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport after leaving Kona in Hawaii on Thursday afternoon.

On the final leg of their itinerary, the couple made a short stopover on Hawaii Island, where they were greeted enthusiastically by well-wishers. The Emperor and Empress were welcomed by about 60 local hula dancers at Kona airport and some 120 Japanese-Americans at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, some of them shouting “banzai.”

At Parker Ranch, the two attended a reception hosted by Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki and Consul General of Japan in Hawaii Toshio Kunikata. Some 60 local dignitaries and representatives of Japanese-American groups conversed with the couple at the ranch.