Emperor Emeritus, Empress Emerita recall wartime evacuation on Nikko trip

Next month marks 80 years since schoolchildren in Japan were evacuated to rural areas to avoid air raids on cities toward the end of World War Two.

Emperor Emeritus Akihito evacuated to Nikko, a resort area north of Tokyo, with his classmates at Gakushuin Primary School from July 1944 to November 1945.

The Emperor Emeritus visited Nikko City on Tuesday with Empress Emerita Michiko. They smiled and waved at people who greeted them at Tobu Nikko Station.

The Emperor Emeritus lived for about a year at Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa, until less than a month before Japan surrendered.

The couple visited the villa, which is now a memorial park.

As they walked through the garden, the Emperor Emeritus pointed to a room on the second floor where he had studied.

The couple planted a yew tree in the garden in 2001, to replace the tree that was lost after the war.

They seemed pleasantly surprised when they were told that the tree is now 3.5 meters tall.

The couple later visited a nearby botanical garden that houses a building where the Emperor Emeritus took lessons with his classmates.

The couple will stay in Nikko through Friday.
They plan to visit Oku-Nikko, deeper in the mountains, where the Emperor Emeritus heard his father announce Japan's surrender on the radio.