The cities of Kyoto and Nara are both inviting the retiring Emperor to spend their years in their cities upon his abdication.
The mayor of Kyoto, Daisaku Kadokawa, said in a news conference that he would submit his proposal for Kyoto to be the city the Emperor and Empress retire to. He hopes that Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will “stay as long as possible in Kyoto.”
Emperors previously reigned from Kyoto for nearly 1000 years. This earned the city the name of “thousand-year capital.”
In 2013, Kyoto submitted a proposal with the aim of serving as a cultural capital of Japan. They hoped to have members of the Imperial Family move to the city. Emperors previously lived in Kyoto when it served as the imperial capital.
Nara, which was once known as Heijō-kyō, when it served as the capital of Japan is also inviting the Emperor.
The Governor, Shogo Arai, said that the government would consider setting up a detached palace for the Emperor to stay in his retirement.
He said that the palace would “provide a place where he will be able to relax physically and mentally, and his interests in culture, history and other academic fields can be stimulated.”
It is, however, important to note that neither the Emperor or the Empress have ever lived in either Kyoto or Nara.
Yasuhik Nishimura, the Vice Grand Steward at the Imperial Household Agency, declined to comment when asked if the retiring Emperor will spend a long time outside Tokyo.
The heir to the Japanese throne currently stays at Tōgū Palace which is thought to be a prime candidate for the retired Emperor.
It is currently unknown where Akihito wishes to live or what sort of role he would play in the decision to relocate the Imperial Family.
Emperor Akihito will be the first ruler in 200 years to abdicate. While there was initial opposition within the government, they did pass legislation allowing his abdication.
It is expected he will abdicate in December 2018 in favour of Crown Prince Naruhito.