I can't help it, I'm fascinated by the Imperial Family.
Did you know that the members of the Imperial Family are known by only one name each (no family name)? Another fact I find interesting is that they are not allowed to vote (or to hold office).
Emperor Akihito is the 125th Japanese emperor. The title passes to the male heir. Men born into the Imperial Family marry and stay in it for life. When women in the Imperial Family marry, they lose their imperial status and become commoners.
In July, a law was passed by parliament that will allow Emperor Akihito to abidicate the throne and retire. This will be the first time an emperor has abdicated in about 200 years. I read just yesterday that this will take place on March 31, 2019, with Crown Prince Naruhito ascending to the throne on April 1, 2019. I don't know why it takes so long. Why can't he just retire right away?
Yesterday was Empress Michiko's 83rd birthday. Her husband the Emperor is also 83 years old. His birthday, December 23rd, is a national holiday in Japan.
Princess Mako, the twenty-five year old first grandchild of the Emperor and first child of the Emperor's second son announced her engagement in September. I think it was in May that it was announced that she would announce her engagement later in the year. There will be another announcement later about when the wedding date will be. So many announcements!
Twenty-two year old Princess Kako (second child of the second son of the Emperor) left Japan in September to spend a year studying in England at University of Leeds. She will study performing arts and psychology as an exchange student from the International Christian University in Tokyo, where she is a junior. Her older sister Mako also spent a year studying abroad at University of Edinburgh in Scotland.