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Monday, 23rd December 2013
In General Japan News,

Tokyoites gather for Emperor's birthday

The Imperial Palace in Tokyo has been thronged with well-wishers today (December 23rd ) as thousands turned out to honour Emperor Akihito’s 80th birthday.

Standing on a glass-covered balcony at the iconic venue overlooking the crowds, the leader of the world's oldest monarchy thanked his wife Empress Michiko, who has stood by him since their wedding in 1959.

"I feel most fortunate that I have been able to endeavour to carry out my role as Emperor with the empress by my side," the Emperor stated, adding that the position has been "lonely" at times.

Akihito's birthday is one of the few occasions that the Imperial Palace is open to the public, with visitors generally only able to access one of the extensive gardens.

Despite the mystique and revere that surrounds the Japanese monarchy, the royal couple have done their best to appear ordinary in the eyes of the public, with Michiko famously making bento boxes for her children to take to school.

Written by Graham McPherson