Supporters celebrate Japan's emperor, empress during parade

Japan imperial couple rides through Tokyo in grand enthronement parade

Japan’s emperor greets public in parade marking enthronement

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako rode through central Tokyo on Sunday in a motorcade to mark this year's imperial succession as well-wishers waved national flags and held up mobile phones for snapshots of the smiling royal couple.

On Sunday, the royal couple will parade in a convertible auto along a 4.6-km route from the palace to their residence in central Tokyo to mark the enthronement. Empress Masako appeared to wipe away tears as they passed tens of thousands of adoring fans during the parade that passed the Japan legislative building.

The parade of almost five kilometres (three miles) through central Tokyo was originally scheduled for October 22, but the government postponed it after more than 80 people were killed by Typhoon Hagibis last month.

The festival came after Naruhito completed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum throne on October 22 in a ceremony steeped in the traditions and grandeur of a monarchy that claims 2,000 years of history.

Authorities deployed around 26,000 officers and established extensive security measures, including around 40 checkpoints along the route, blockades on nearby roads and restrictions on using metro stations in the area.

The motorcadewas led by a black Century limousine from Toyota Motor.

Emperor Naruhito, 59, acceded to the throne in May after his father, Akihito, became the first monarch to abdicate in two centuries. The government estimated some 119,000 people attended, public broadcaster NHK said.

Thousands of people had lined up at checkpoints hours before the parade, trying to secure their place to get the best possible view of the imperial couple.

Ms Yoko Mori, 64, queued up from 10am to snag a spot to see the parade, travelling from Saitama outside Tokyo.

"The sky is so blue and this is a great day for taking photos, as if it's the heaven's blessing for (the emperor)", said Suzuki, an amateur photographer.

Sunday's event was the first since one was held for Naruhito and Masako's marriage in June 1993, just three years after his parents marked their enthronement with a parade.

The Rolls-Royce that carried Akihito in 1990 was retired in 2007.

Naruhito and Masako have been warmly welcomed by the public.

There are expectations that Naruhito - who is Japan's first emperor with a college degree and who studied overseas - and his Harvard-educated wife will internationalize the imperial household.

Naruhito, who studied at Oxford, is a historian, a viola player and an expert on water transport.

"I'm looking forward to see the dress Empress Masako will wear", Hiroko Kikuta, in her 60s, told AFP.

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