One can’t help wondering if the best birthday present Emperor Emeritus Akihito received today was not having to be emperor anymore.

His abdication actually came at the end April, but it wasn’t until October that his son was formally enthroned as Japan’s 126th emperor, with the conclusion of the Sokurei Seiden no Gi (Sokui no Rei for short), a grand ceremony attended by a mob of foreign dignitaries. November saw the Daijosai, a once-in-a-lifetime ritual in which Emperor Naruhito entered purpose-built sacramental halls to commune with Amaterasu, a Shinto goddess and putative imperial ancestor.

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