Japan's emperor and empress visit Victoria

July 11, 2009 at 12:53 PM

VICTORIA, British Columbia, July 11 (UPI) -- Emperor Akihito returned for a visit to Victoria, Canada, where he spent his first night away from Japan as a crown prince in 1953, officials said.

Akihito Friday greeted an estimated 500 cheering supporters as he and Empress Michiko toured Victoria's Government House and the Richmond Olympic Oval, The Vancouver Sun reported Saturday.

Akihito, 75, last was in Victoria as a 19-year-old crown prince en route to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London.

Akihito had fond memories of Victoria and wanted his wife to see the region, embassy officials said.

Kazuyo Iga, who moved to Victoria from Osaka, Japan, two years ago, was along those greeting the royal couple Friday.

"It was so nice to see them so close," Iga said. "They are very special people."

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