Japan’s reigning monarch steps out into town with his wife and several dozen bodyguards and attendants.

Japan is pretty big on public transportation, but members of the imperial family typically get driven around to conferences, functions, and other places they need to be. Still, on occasion, even the top representatives of the world’s oldest monarchy ride the rails, and while they do so in private trains, they still pass through public stations.

Japanese Twitter user @shuzo723 was recently at Tokyo Station, the closest rail hub to the Imperial Palace, when onto the platform stepped Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko. While the two walked with the unconscious, easy grace of accomplished diplomats, there was a bit more alert sharpness in the movements of their security detail.


Excluding conductors and other train staff, some 37 people can be counted accompanying the Emperor and Empress. While their exact, individual roles are unsure, at the very least the cluster of 15 dark-suited men who immediately precede and follow the couple through the gates are clearly bodyguards, judging from their watchful eyes and coordinated movements.

Through it all, the Emperor smiles and waves good-naturedly. Dressed in slacks and a dress shirt, but without a jacket or tie, he looks like an ordinary senior citizen, perhaps on his way to a quiet restaurant for a relaxing lunch with his wife. Really, he seems so down to earth that it’s almost surprising @shuzo723 didn’t walk up and shake his hand. Almost surprising, though, because of, well, the dozens of bodyguards.

Source: Hachima Kiko, Twitter/@shuzo723

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