Off-limits areas of palace to open

Kyodo

To commemorate Emperor Akihito’s 80th birthday, the Imperial Household Agency will open previously inaccessible parts of the Imperial Palace to the public next spring and fall.

The Emperor turns 80 on Dec. 23.

A special weekend tour will give some 300 people a first look inside the palace in May and October, the agency said Monday.

Until now, members of the public have only been allowed to view the palace’s exterior.

Among the highlights to see on the tour are a dining hall that usually hosts dignitaries and the building from which the Imperial family waves to the public every Jan. 2, the agency said. Each day will have three tours of about 50 people each.