Akihito is the eldest son and the fifth child of the Emperor Showa (Hirohito) and the Empress Kojun (Nagako). Titled Tsugo no miya (Prince Tsugo) as a child, he was educated by private tutors and then attended the Boy's Elementary and Secondary Departments of the then-Peers' School (Gakushuin after 1947), 1940-52.
During the American fire bombing of Tokyo in March 1945, he and his younger brother, Prince Masahito (now Prince Hitachi), were evacuated from Tokyo. During the American occupation of Japan following World War II, Crown Prince Akihito was tutored in English by Elizabeth Gray Vining. He briefly studied at the Department of Political Science at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, although he never received a degree. Although he was heir-apparent to the Chrysanthemum throne from December 23, 1933, his formal investiture as Crown Prince (Rittaishi no Rei) was held at Imperial Palace on November 10, 1951.
In June 1953, Crown Prince Akihito represented Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. On April 10, 1959, he married Miss Shoda Michiko (born October 24, 1934), the eldest daughter of Mr. Shoda Hidesaburo, the president and later honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Miling Company. The marriage broke all precedents as the new Crown Princess was the first commoner to marry into the imperial family. Then-Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko made official visits to 37 countries. The Crown Prince assumed the throne on January 7, 1989 after the death of his father.
Since succeeding to the throne, the present Emperor has made an effort to bring the imperial family closer to the Japanese people. He and Empress have made official visits to 18 countries, as well as all 47 prefectures of Japan. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have three children: Crown Prince Naruhito (born February 23, 1960), Prince Akishino (Fumihito, born November 11, 1965) and Princess Sayako (titled, Nori no miya, or Princess Nori, born April 18, 1969).
See also Emperor of Japan.