National

Japan's former emperor and empress to switch residences with their successors in Tokyo

Kyodo

Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko are set to vacate the Imperial Palace following Tuesday’s abdication, to make way for the new emperor and his family as they hand over their public duties and look forward to leisurely days.

The emperor emeritus and empress emerita will move to a temporary residence in Tokyo before settling at the former Crown Prince’s Residence, known from today as the Akasaka Residence, within the Akasaka Estate once renovation work is completed. The residence is currently home to the new Emperor Naruhito and his family.

Their temporary residence will be the Takanawa Imperial Residence in Minato Ward, formerly home to Prince and Princess Takamatsu. The residence has been empty since the princess — aunt of Emperor Emeritus Akihito — died in 2004.

When the works at the Akasaka Residence are complete it will be renamed Sento Imperial Palace, which translates as “the place where the retired imperial couple live.”

The couple has fond memories of their final home, where they brought up their children when the emperor emeritus was crown prince.

The emperor emeritus is handing off all public duties to the new emperor immediately. The couple will pray for the country and its people after they move, and spend more time with friends, listening to music and reading, according to Imperial Household Agency officials.

A keen marine biologist, the emperor emeritus will periodically visit the Imperial Palace to continue his research on gobies, they said.

“I am looking forward to being able to take my time to read every book that I have yet to read,” Empress Emerita Michiko said in a statement to the press last October.