Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Thursday met celebrities and renowned Japanese from a variety of fields at a biannual garden party they hosted in Tokyo, with Crown Princess Masako taking part for the first time in 12 years.
Among the estimated 1,900 guests were Shinji Mizushima, a cartoonist known for his works on baseball, and Masayo Takahashi, a Riken researcher who led the world’s first operation to implant induced pluripotent stem cells into a human patient.
Tomikazu Fukuda, the governor of Tochigi Prefecture, which was hit hard by torrential rain in September, was also present at the autumn party held at the Akasaka Imperial Garden.
Lawmakers and local government officials were also among the invitees.
Crown Princess Masako, who has been recuperating from a stress-induced illness, joined an Imperial garden party for the first time since October 2003.
The Imperial Household Agency said she was initially scheduled to appear only during the opening ceremony, but then walked down to talk with some of the guests at the encouragement of the Imperial Couple.
Crown Prince Naruhito, husband of the Crown Princess, and other Imperial family members mingled with the guests who were treated to a light meal and traditional Japanese music.