Japanese emperor and empress visit leprosy sanitarium

On Tuesday, July 22nd, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko paid a visit to Tohoku Shinseien Sanitarium, a leprosy sanitarium located in the northeastern Japanese city of Tome, Miyagi Prefecture.

The visit was the first stop on the imperial couple’s three-day tour of northeastern Japan. The pair met with leprosy patients and placed flowers at a memorial to pay respects to the deceased.

The Emperor and Empress have long been concerned about the plight of patients suffering from leprosy, having visited a leprosy sanitarium for the first time in 1968. With this stop, they have now been to all 14 of such sanitariums in Japan.

The couple talked with residents about their experiences, discovering that some have called the place their home for nearly 75 years.