Emperor Emeritus Akihito visited the Imperial Palace in Tokyo for the first time since March on Thursday for research purposes.
Akihito spent about an hour and a half in a biology research institute inside the palace where he has long conducted research regarding goby fish. He arrived and left the palace in a surgical mask as Japan still takes precautions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was able to make the trip to the palace because Tokyo’s state of emergency was lifted by the government. Additionally, he was allowed to visit because the Imperial Palace did not expose him to what the Japanese government calls the three C’s – closed spaces, close-contact settings and crowded places.
It was the former monarch’s first trip back to the Imperial Palace since he and his wife, Empress Emerita Michiko left the palace and moved to a temporary residence in the Japanese capital. The couple now reside in Takanawa Imperial Residence in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.
This was part of a move to switch residences with his son, the now reigning Emperor Naruhito, his wife Empress Masako and their daughter Princess Aiko. The Emperor and his family live in Akasaka Imperial Residence and will move into the Imperial Palace once renovations are completed. The Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita will move into Akasaka once Naruhito and his family are able to move into the Imperial Palace.
Both Akihito, 86, and Michiko, 85, have been in isolation due to the coronavirus.