Japanese Emperor Akihito 85, is the first monarch to abdicate in two centuries,.
Akihito performed a ritual announcement of his abdication in three palace sanctuaries, including one honoring the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, from whom mythology says the imperial line is descended, and two others for departed emperors and Shinto gods.
Naruhito, 59, will inherit the throne in ceremonies on Wednesday. He studied at Oxford and together with his Harvard-educated wife, Masako, will give the monarchy a cosmopolitan flavor.
Akihito officially remains emperor until midnight.