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Akihito, Michiko throw golden wedding party

JAPAN'S Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko marked their 50th wedding anniversary yesterday with a series of celebrations, including a gala party with 100 couples who were also celebrating 50 years of marriage.

The milestone has sparked a wave of nostalgia in the media about the early days of their marriage, when the young woman dubbed "Mitchy" became a fashion icon and a potent symbol of a new, forward-looking Japan.

"Japan was young then, too," read one magazine headline, listing the milestones of the 1960s, including the Tokyo Olympics and the opening of the high-speed "bullet" train network.

In an interview published to mark the anniversary, Akihito, 75, said he was looking forward to meeting the other couples, who all celebrate their golden wedding anniversaries this year.

"Around the time when the empress and I were married, although people's lives were not necessarily rich, everyone was filled with hope and looking forward to the future," he said.

Michiko's modern style was a major factor in her popularity. Photos show her in a full-skirted 1950s dress bidding farewell to her kimono-clad mother on the day of her wedding. As crown princess in the 1960s, she even wore miniskirts.

Born Michiko Shoda, the eldest daughter of a wealthy flour company executive, she met the then-crown prince at a tennis tournament.

They married in a 1959 ceremony watched by millions of Japanese on television sets many families reportedly bought especially for the occasion.


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