Photos: The Royal Life of Emperor Akihito

After a nearly 30-year reign, Japan’s Emperor Akihito stepped down today in an abdication ceremony in Tokyo. The 85-year-old monarch is passing the throne to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, after acknowledging that his age and poor health were making it difficult for him to fulfill his duties. Akihito was Japan’s 125th emperor, part of a line of succession that some have traced back more than 2,500 years. Below, a collection of images of Akihito and his wife, Michiko, through the years, first as prince and princess, then emperor and empress of Japan.

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