Japan's Emperor and Empress visit rain-damaged community in Okayama Prefecture

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have visited a community in western Japan that was devastated by heavy rain six years ago.

The Imperial couple attended a tree-planting ceremony in Okayama City on Sunday morning, and visited the Mabi district in Kurashiki City in the afternoon.

Around 30 percent of the district was inundated, leaving 74 people dead, including some who died from disaster-related causes.

The Emperor and Empress visited a park built on a bank of the Oda River as a symbol of recovery. Rain breached the riverbank, flooding the community.

Kurashiki Mayor Ito Kaori explained that most of the residents returned after riverbanks were fortified and houses were rebuilt on elevated ground.

The Emperor and Empress bowed deeply toward the residential area where reconstruction is underway.

They talked with three residents who experienced the disaster.

Takatsuki Motofumi said he told the couple that a local festival has been revived to the joy of the entire community. He said the Empress told him, "That's truly wonderful."