Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko – ceremonial rulers of the country – made a visit to the Tokyo hotel that U.S. President Barack Obama was staying in to bid him farewell as he departs for South Korea on the second stop of his four-nation Asian visit. Obama’s visit was the first time in almost a decade that Japan hosted an American president for a state visit, and the imperial couple had been very visible during Obama’s short stop in Tokyo.
Due to security reasons, Obama had spent his two nights in Tokyo at a hotel located near the U.S. Embassy. Usually, it is customary for a state guest to stay at the Akasaka Palace state guesthouse. Their visit to Obama’s hotel was the third time the imperial couple met with the U.S. president. They also hosted a welcoming ceremony for Obama at the Imperial Palace on Thursday morning, and met him again in the evening for a state banquet which they also hosted. The banquet’s menu was understandably continental – which included royal consommé, red sea bream steamed with Champagne, and roasted leg of lamb. For a taste of the local produce, a seasonal salad was served, some ice cream in the image of Mt. Fuji, and Japanese sake.
Obama closed out his full day of meetings by offering a toast to the alliance between his country and Japan at the dinner. “Although we are separated by vast oceans, our peoples come together every day in every realm,” Obama said, delivering the toast to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. “May we never give up hope. May we always take care of each other. And may we continue to live strong for tomorrow.” Obama’s visit to the country was the first by a U.S. president since Bill Clinton visited in 1996.