Emperor Emeritus Akihito, 86, and Empress Emerita Michiko, 85, are set to move out of the Imperial Palace on Thursday, 19 March, the Imperial Household has announced.
The couple have lived in the home for 26 years and will move to the Hayama Imperial Villa in Kanagawa Prefecture that same day. Later, they will stay at the Imperial Stock Farm in Tochigi Prefecture while some of their belongings will be in storage in Tokyo at a temporary residence.
On 31 March, Akihito and Michiko will move to the Takanawa Imperial Residence in Tokyo’s Minato Ward before eventually resettling in the Akasaka Imperial Residence, which has to be renovated with elevators and slopes, to accommodate the couple’s advanced ages. They previously lived in the home; it is where they raised their three children before Akihito took the throne.
This is the first step in swapping residences with their son, Emperor Naruhito, his wife, Empress Masako and their daughter, Princess Aiko. The family currently resides in the Akasaka Imperial Residence.
The Emperor and Empress have been commuting from their nearby home to the Imperial Palace daily for their official tasks.
Emperor Naruhito took the throne on 1 May of last year after his father abdicated the previous day. Akihito was the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in nearly 200 years, and a special law had to be enacted to allow for the abdication.