KYOTO -- Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko hosted a tea party at the Kyoto Imperial Palace here on March 25 to commemorate 30 years since his enthronement.
Among some 200 guests were the governors of the six prefectures in the Kansai region and local leaders in various fields such as culture and business.
In his opening speech, the Emperor commented, "I'm very glad to spend time with you in Kyoto, where my ancestors lived" and together with the Empress they had pleasant talks with guests for about 30 minutes.
The Imperial Couple asked the governors about the progress of restoration work following natural disasters, according to attendees. Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido told reporters that the Emperor said to him, "Good work on restoration work (following the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.)" The governor responded, "It was achieved thanks to Your Majesty's encouragement."
Fuyumi Sakamoto, a popular enka singer from Wakayama Prefecture, told reporters that she talked with the Empress about a famous NHK TV program that hosts amateur singers in a contest. Sakamoto said with tears in her eyes, "I was impressed to be told, 'Please sing good songs for the people.'"
The Imperial Couple previously hosted a tea party in February at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
(Japanese original by Nao Yamada, City News Department and Naoya Shinoda, Kyoto Bureau)