Japan’s Emperor Akihito has begun a series of rituals leading to his abdication on April 30.
The first ceremonies were held at the three Imperial sanctuaries on the palace grounds in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The Emperor, dressed in an ancient court costume, first visited the main sanctuary, called Kashikodokoro.
The Emperor bowed and read out an ancient-worded script to report his abdication and its date to Imperial ancestor Amaterasu-omikami, the sun goddess, who is enshrined there.
He later staged similar rites at the two other sanctuaries, Koreiden and Shinden, which are dedicated to the souls of Imperial ancestors and various Japanese deities.
The Imperial Household Agency says it plans to stage the series of abdication rituals in a solemn and quiet manner.
Unlike the rites for enthronement, the prime minister and the heads of the legislative and judicial branches did not attend Tuesday’s rituals.
Emperor Akihito is due to report his abdication at the Mausoleum of Emperor Jinmu in Nara Prefecture, who is Japan’s first emperor, according to legend.
He will also visit the Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture and the Mausoleum of his father, the late Emperor Showa, in suburban Tokyo.
Rituals by the outgoing Emperor at the three sanctuaries in the Imperial Palace are due to take place again on the day of his abdication on April 30.