Emperor, Empress Visiting Ise

Emperor, Empress visiting Ise

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are in the city of Ise in central Japan on their last trip to a local region before the Emperor's abdication on April 30.

The couple left Tokyo Station on Wednesday afternoon. They were seen off by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The couple arrived in Ise about three hours later.

They were greeted at the station by local officials and crowds of well-wishers.

As the couple were driven to their lodgings on the grounds of Ise Shrine, crowds along the route waved and cheered. The Emperor and Empress waved back from open windows, despite the rain.

The Emperor and Empress are traveling with a sacred sword and a jewel. The items are two of the three sacred treasures that symbolize the imperial throne.

The visit to Ise Shrine, which is dedicated to a legendary ancestress of the imperial family, is part of a series of rituals for the Emperor's abdication.

The couple will worship at the Outer Shrine and the Inner Shrine on Thursday.