Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Tuesday visited the mausoleum of Japan's legendary first leader Emperor Jimmu in Nara Prefecture to pay respects before his abdication on April 30.

The visit to the ancient grave dedicated to the first emperor, who is said to have acceded to the throne in 660 B.C., is one of 11 ceremonies and rites that started on March 12 in the run-up to the abdication.

Dressed in a morning suit, the 85-year-old Emperor walked up to the tomb to place a sacred tree branch and bowed deeply.

Emperor Akihito will also travel to the ancient Grand Shrines of Ise in Mie Prefecture on April 18 and the Tokyo mausoleum of his father Emperor Showa on April 23 for the same purpose.

The succession events involving the Emperor will end with a ceremony marking his relinquishment of the throne at the end of next month.

Emperor Akihito will become the first living monarch to step down in about 200 years and will be succeeded by his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59.

The Emperor expressed his desire to abdicate in a rare video message in August 2016, citing concern that he might not be able to fulfill official duties due to his advanced age.