It’s all change for Japan!
Upon the 30th of April 2019, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito will have formally retired from the Chrysanthemum Throne, which will then pass to his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito. Such an event will require a lot of rearrangements, and one of the most pressing is where exactly the retired emperor should spend the rest of his days, as he would no longer be able to remain in the Imperial Palace of Tokyo.
The answer to that question has yet to be answered, although a number of cities have already volunteered themselves for the honour of housing Akihito in his retirement. In the meantime, His Imperial Majesty will take up residence at Takanawa Imperial Residence in Tokyo, and from there to Togu Palace on the Akasaka Estate until such a time a more permanent residence can be secured. It will be renamed Sento Palace, which means “residence for the jōkō” – jōkō being the agreed upon title for the retired emperor — Empress Michiko will be referred to as jōkōgō.
Takanawa was constructed for use by Prince and Princess Takamatsu in 1973; however, it has remained empty since the death of Princess Kikuko — the Emperor’s aunt — in 2004. Togu Palace, meanwhile, is the current residence of the Crown Prince.
With all the changes in duties priorities for the Imperial Family, all these palaces have been scheduled to receive much updating in order to ensure they can adequately serve the needs of their new occupants.
Takanawa, for example, is apparently in need of a bit of a fix up since the Princess Kikuko’s passing, as the residence will be undergoing numerous repairs and renovations to ensure that it is fit for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko’s residence. The Imperial Palace itself will take the opportunity for a little bit of repair work. Upon his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne, Crown Prince Naruhito will take up temporary residence in Akasaka and commute to the Imperial Palace for work. As soon as the repairs are complete, he and his family will move into the Imperial Palace properly. Prince Akishino, who would then be the next Crown Prince, will then move into Akasaka Palace — also scheduled for a refit — with his family, and take up his new duties there.