Emperor, Empress attend Hokkaido fete

Jiji Press

The Emperor and Empress applaud during a ceremony in Sapporo celebrating the 150th anniversary of the naming of Hokkaido on Sunday.

Jiji Press SAPPORO (Jiji Press) — The Emperor and Empress attended on Sunday a ceremony to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Hokkaido being named.

Representing the ceremony organizers, Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi said, “We’ll hand down our invaluable homeland, Hokkaido, to people 50 years and 100 years ahead, with pride in a variety of values and attractions that have been refined by our ancestors over long years.”

Local traditional performing arts including by the Ainu ethnic minority were staged, drawing applause from the Imperial couple.

The northern island, once called Ezo, was named Hokkaido in 1869 by a decree of the Meiji government following a proposal of explorer Takeshiro Matsuura.

Also at the ceremony site, the Emperor and Empress saw the largest complete dinosaur skeleton ever discovered in Japan, found in the Hokkaido town of Mukawa.

“It must be a rare set in Japan,” the Emperor said. “I’m happy that a good thing was discovered.”

The Imperial couple was on the final day of a three-day visit to Hokkaido.

On Saturday, the Emperor and Empress made their first-ever visit to the island of Rishiri.

A trip had once been planned in 2011, but was canceled following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster in March that year.

The Emperor and Empress visited a sea urchin breeding center in the town.Speech

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