Japan's 85-year-old Emperor Akihito declared his abdication on April 30, 2019, drawing the curtain on his three-decade reign. Here are various moments across the country captured by Kyodo News photographers on the last day of the Heisei Era. 

・In the morning, Emperor Akihito, clad in a dark orange robe, visited the sanctuaries within the palace precincts to perform rituals to ceremonially report his abdication to his ancestors.

・Braving the rain, well-wishers gathered in front of the palace to mark the last day of Heisei, taking commemorative photos and hoping for a glimpse of members of the imperial family entering the palace for the rituals.

・In the afternoon, Emperor Akihito declared his abdication at a ceremony at the Imperial Palace, expressing his appreciation for the support of the Japanese people during his 30-year reign.

"I have performed my duties as the emperor with a deep sense of trust in and respect for the people, and I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so," the 85-year-old emperor said in his final speech at the palace.

・The nation watched as the ceremony was broadcast live on television, with many people savoring the final hours of the Heisei Era while expressing hopes for the new Reiwa Era to begin the next day.

(Newspaper extras reporting the abdication)

(A man holds a postcard with postal stamps dated Jan. 8, 1989, the first day of the Heisei Era, and April 30, 2019, the final day)

(Balloons with messages saying "Thank you Heisei" and "Welcome Reiwa" are raised over a department store in Nagoya)

(Meanwhile, some protesters against the emperor system rally in Tokyo's Shinjuku) 

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