I happened to see the current Emperor in front of Tokyo station once in 1989 just after he ascended to the throne . At that time, he was going to visit the Ise Shrine to pay respect to his ancestors. Furthermore, 8 years before that, I happened to come across the current Crown Prince on a moutain trail and I directly exchanged greetings with him. Though I luckily have special memories about the Imperial Family, ordinary citizens are allowed to offer congratulations to the Imperial Family twice a year, the current Emperor's birthday on Dec. 23 and on Jan. 2. On these days, the Imperial Family appears on the balcony of the Imperial palace and the Emperor addresses to them.
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