Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Monday paid a visit to woodland restored by British-born writer and environmentalist C.W. Nicol in Nagano Prefecture.

The couple took a stroll in Afan Woodland in the town of Shinano, with the Emperor asking Nicol the names of various plants. As he walked through the forest, the Emperor said, "It feels good."

The wooded area, which takes its name from a forest park in Wales, had been cut down and was neglected for more than 40 years until the 1980s. The 75-year-old author, who now has Japanese citizenship and has been a columnist for The Japan Times since 2002, has long been involved in efforts to restore its original ecosystem by taking care of trees there.

The Imperial Couple were staying in the prefecture to attend the annual National Arbor Day Festival in the city of Nagano on Sunday to promote forestry and protection of the natural environment.

During their three-day trip to Nagano through Monday, the Imperial Couple also met with five residents of the village of Sakae, which was hit by a powerful earthquake on March 12, 2011, the day after the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated wide areas of the Tohoku region.

In 2012, the Emperor and Empress visited temporary housing units in the village to offer encouragement to the survivors.