Over the weekend, the emperor and empress of Japan visited Fukushima Prefecture. Previously, I had known that they would be in Fukushima City yesterday (Monday.) I also knew that they would be driven to the train station (to return to Tokyo), down the street near my house. So I went to that street to watch them go by.
I showed up at 3:10, and they weren’t supposed to be driven by until around 4:30. There was a lot of security (police) standing there, and I asked one of them where to go. I was taken to a spot–everybody who wanted to watch the emperor and empress pass by had to stand in that particular spot. I was first! And then the police put people next to me, and then behind me, as the people streamed in because they, too, wanted to see the emperor and empress. A lot of them were my neighbors, actually. So it was a fun neighborly experience.
We were bound in by ropes. We were told the ropes would be taken away before the emperor and emperor came by, but not to move.
(I think the ropes were taken away so a better impression would be given to the royal couple. That’s my guess.)
My view as waiting for their royal car. The man looking at the camera is one of the security. So is the other man in black further down (on right.)
The people were just usual pedestrians.
We were told that when a vehicle with an A passed by it would be a thirty minute wait from then. So this is the A car.
A vehicle with a P means pizza for everybody. (Just joking. This is a pizza restaurant scooter. Cars were not stopped from using this street until a later time.)
The B car means…I can’t remember…ten minutes left?
The 3 car means three minutes left. We all were excited! I got my camera ready.
We were told the royal car would have a flag on it. So that’s the car approaching.
Her royal highness, the empress. The emperor is next to her–you can see his hand waving.
This car went by really fast! (I’m sure it was travelling at a normal speed, it felt super fast to me. Just time to snap one photo and then, whoops, finished.)
The cars travelling behind……… The entourage, I guess?
Afterwards. We’d seen the empress and sort of seen the emperor. So we all left and went home. I took a hot shower because I was wet!
I’m happy I had the experience…..but as I expected it was a long wait. I expected the royal car to pass by more slowly. It was probably was slow, actually, but it did not really feel like it.
They went back to Tokyo in a bullet train. I asked a police officer and he told me they use their own bullet train, and it looks exactly like a regular bullet train.
The Emperor was born in 1933. The Empress was born in 1934. So they are well over eighty years old.
Usually, the Japanese emperor remains emperor until his death. But the current emperor wanted to retire from duty. (Presumably duties like giving speeches, meeting other important people, visiting parts of Japan, etc.)
So next year, he will retire and his eldest son will take over as emperor.
It was a debate over whether he should be allowed to retire or not. I felt he definitely should be allowed! I don’t think the role seems especially hard for a younger person, but for a very elderly person, it would be a hard job. So I am happy that he can do what he wants and retire. 🙂