Former Empress Michiko turned 88 on Thursday, yet continues with her long-standing daily routine along with husband former Emperor Akihito despite swapping residences with the current emperor and his family.

At what is now called the Emperor Emeritus' Residence on the Akasaka Estate, the former empress takes a morning and evening walk with her 88-year-old husband and reads aloud from books after breakfast, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

The couple moved back into the Akasaka residence in April for the first time in around 30 years, completing a swap with their son, Emperor Naruhito, and his family, who moved into the Imperial Residence within the Imperial Palace in September 2021. The current emperor ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019.

Former Emperor Akihito (L) and his wife former Empress Michiko walk together at the Emperor Emeritus' Residence on Oct. 4, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Imperial Household Agency)(Kyodo)

The former empress has been growing balloon vine seeds at the Akasaka residence, a gift from students of a nursery school located near the Takanawa Imperial Residence, where the couple temporarily lived for around two years.

The empress has not only been concerned about the coronavirus but she also expressed concern, along with the former emperor, about Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures when northeastern Japan was hit by a large earthquake on March 16, according to the agency.

Last month, the former empress mourned the passing of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, whom she had befriended for years.

The former empress has been under observation since being diagnosed in August with deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein, in her right calf.

She continues to experience mild fevers in the afternoon, and her diagnostic indicator of heart failure remains above the normal range.

Due to the pandemic and other reasons, the former empress has refrained from holding birthday celebrations for the past three years. However, this year she received birthday wishes from her son Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako at her residence while taking necessary precautions.

The former emperor became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in about two centuries, bringing to an end the 30-year Heisei Era. His eldest son Emperor Naruhito, 62, subsequently ascended the throne.

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