Japan Emperor performs last harvest ritual before abdication
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Emperor Akihito has given thanks to the gods for a bountiful autumn harvest, the last time he will perform one of most important annual palace rites before abdicating next spring.
Akihito conducted the Niiname ritual on Friday at an Imperial Palace shrine illuminated by torchlight as ancient music was played. He offered harvested rice and other items to the gods, thanking them for the harvest and praying for peace for the nation.
Some of the rice was harvested by Akihito from a field inside the palace grounds. The rest was offered by farmers from around the country.
Akihito is to abdicate on April 30 and will be succeeded the following day by his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.