Emperor Hirohito, who is posthumously known as Emperor Showa, had a procession of public images during his long reign from 1926 to 1989 — though none were quite accurate.

There was the pre-1945 Emperor — stern and remote on his white horse — who was viewed as a living god by the Japanese masses and leader of the Japanese war machine by his enemies abroad. After World War II, Emperor Showa transformed into the constitutional symbol of a new, more democratic Japan, who attended faithfully to his endless ceremonial duties while diligently studying marine biology. In his later years, especially to younger Japanese with no experience of the war, he became an eccentric grandfather figure enjoying himself at Disneyland and waving to the crowds at New Year’s celebrations.

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