As Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary, here is a collection of photos from the six decades they have walked together.

The couple first met in August 1957 on a tennis court in Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture, when then-Crown Prince Akihito and Michiko Shoda played against each other in a doubles match.

(At a tennis court in Karuizawa, 1958)

(At Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club in Azabu, December 1958)

The two became engaged in November 1958 and married on April 10, 1959, marking the first time in Japan for the crown prince, and later the first emperor, to be married to a commoner.

(Photo shoot at then-Crown Prince Akihito's residence ahead of their wedding, 1959)

(Wedding procession, April 10, 1959)

An estimated 530,000 people thronged to see their wedding procession as the couple rode in a horse-drawn carriage from the Imperial Palace to their residence.

(Opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics, 1964)

Their first son, Naruhito, was born in 1960, followed by their second son, Fumihito, in 1965 and daughter Sayako in 1969. The couple did away with the imperial custom of leaving children in the care of wet nurses and royal caretakers, choosing instead to raise their children themselves.

(Then-Crown Princess Michiko holding her newborn son Naruhito as they leave hospital, March 1960)

(Prince Naruhito attempts to amuse his baby brother Prince Fumihito, 1966)

(Prince Naruhito pushes a stroller carrying his baby sister Princess Sayako and little brother Prince Fumihito, 1969)

(At Nasu Imperial Villa, July 1978)

In January 1989, upon the death of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, then-Crown Prince Akihito ascended the throne. The couple assumed the titles of emperor and empress, and the new imperial era Heisei began. 

(Enthronement ceremony, November 1990)

(Visit to China, October 1992)

(Crown Prince Naruhito's wedding with Crown Prince Masako, June 1993)
[Photo courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency]

(Visit to Hyogo Prefecture after the Great Hanshin Earthquake, January 1995)

(With Prince Fumihito's family, August 2004)

(Visit to Saipan to honor the souls of war victims 60 years after the end of WWII, June 2005)

(Playing music with their daughter Princess Sayako, November 2005)

(Playing tennis on the same court where they first met, August 2010)

(Visit to areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, April 2011)

In August 2016, Emperor Akihito released a rare video message to the public expressing his desire to abdicate and pass the throne on to Crown Prince Naruhito.

[Photo courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency]

(Family photo, December 2018)

At a press conference to mark his 85th birthday last December, Emperor Akihito expressed his gratitude for Empress Michiko's support throughout the years. 

(Beach near Imperial Villa in Hayama, January 2019)

"The empress has always been at my side, understood my thoughts, and supported me in my position and official duties as I performed my duties as the emperor," he said, adding that she raised their three children "with deep affection."

"I am truly grateful to the empress, who herself was once one of the people, but who chose to walk this path with me, and over 60 long years continued to serve with great devotion both the imperial family and the people of Japan," the emperor said.

(Outside the Imperial Palace, April 2019)

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