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Japanese emperor pays homage at country’s holiest Shinto shrine one final time ahead of his abdication

Japanese emperor pays homage at country’s holiest Shinto shrine one final time ahead of his abdication

Japanese Emperor who decided to abdicate this month made his last pilgrimage to the holiest Shinto shrine, BBC reported. Emperor’s wife Michiko has joined the last royal visit to the sacred place, the imperial couple is making a three-day tour through Friday. 

The last trip of Emperor Akihito to Shinto shrine became an unforgettable event for thousands of Japanese. On Thursday, the crowds of people were welcoming the royal cortege, wishing the oldest royal couple, Akihito and Michiko, all the best.

The 85-year-old emperor decided to visit the Ise Jingu shrine in central Japan, the holiest place to mark the final of Akihito’s reign. Japan’s Emperor Akihito’s will be the first abdication in Japan for 200 years – a rarity in the country’s imperial history.

Visiting of the Ise Jingu shrine is an integral part of a series of abdication ceremonies ahead of Emperor’s retirement. On April, 30, Akihito will make way for his son Crown Prince Naruhito who succeeds to the Chrysanthemum Throne next day.

Traditionally, Ise Shrine was a centre of Japan’s wartime emperor worship that still attracts political and business leaders today. Rituals at Ise are intended for the imperial family, and the emperor was the head priest until 1945 while Shinto was the state religion and the emperor was said to be a living god.

Shinto, a religion perhaps as old as Japan itself, is a rich blend of folklore, reverence for all things natural and the Japanese nation.

On Thursday, cheering wellwishers waved Japanese flags as the imperial couple’s motorcade headed to the shrine, dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami – the emperor’s mythical ancestor.