Japan has witnessed a rare handover of its Chrysanthemum Throne by a living emperor.

New Emperor Naruhito ascended the throne on Wednesday after his father Akihito abdicated Tuesday night and became emperor emeritus. It was Japan’s first abdication in two centuries.

The transition started Tuesday as Akihito, wearing a monarch’s dark orange robe and a headdress, reported his retirement at three main shrines, including one where the sun goddess Amaterasu, said to be the direct ancestress of the imperial family, is enshrined.

Japan's Emperor Akihito leaves after a ritual to report his abdication to the throne, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Akihito announced his abdication at a palace ceremony Tuesday in his final address, as the nation embraced the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s Emperor Akihito leaves after a ritual to report his abdication to the throne, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Akihito announced his abdication at a palace ceremony Tuesday in his final address, as the nation embraced the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era. (Japan Pool via AP)

Akihito, 85, later formally announced his retirement in his final address to his people, thanking them for their support.

Akihito took the throne in 1989 and devoted his career to making amends for a war fought in his father’s name while bringing the aloof monarchy closer to the people. His era was the first in Japan’s modern history without war.

The nation celebrated the imperial succession prompted by retirement rather than death. Many stood outside the palace to reminisce about Akihito’s era; others joined midnight events when the transition occurred; and more came to celebrate the beginning of Naruhito’s reign.

In this photo provided by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan, Japan's Emperor Akihito, left, walks for a ritual to report his abdication to the throne, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The 85-year-old Akihito ends his three-decade reign on Tuesday when he abdicates to his son Crown Prince Naruhito. (The Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP)
In this photo provided by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan, Japan’s Emperor Akihito, left, walks for a ritual to report his abdication to the throne, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The 85-year-old Akihito ends his three-decade reign on Tuesday when he abdicates to his son Crown Prince Naruhito. (The Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP)

Naruhito, at a succession ceremony Wednesday, pledged to emulate his father in seeking peace and staying close to the people. He received the imperial regalia of a sacred sword and jewel as proof of his succession.

On his way to and from the palace, he lowered his car window, smiled and waved at people cheering on the sidewalk.

Naruhito is the first emperor born after World War II and the first to have studied overseas.

Japan's Emperor Akihito, left, with Empress Michiko, second from left, and his son Crown Prince Naruhito, second from right, and Crown Princess Masako, right, arrives for the ceremony of his abdication at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Akihito announced his abdication at a palace ceremony Tuesday in his final address, as the nation embraced the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s Emperor Akihito, left, with Empress Michiko, second from left, and his son Crown Prince Naruhito, second from right, and Crown Princess Masako, right, arrives for the ceremony of his abdication at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Akihito announced his abdication at a palace ceremony Tuesday in his final address, as the nation embraced the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era. (Japan Pool via AP)

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Japan's Emperor Akihito speaks during the ceremony of his abdication in front of other members of the royal families and top government officials at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The 85-year-old Akihito ends his three-decade reign on Tuesday as his son Crown Prince Naruhito, second from left, will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne on Wednesday. Empress Michiko is at right and Crown Princess Masako is at left. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s Emperor Akihito speaks during the ceremony of his abdication in front of other members of the royal families and top government officials at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The 85-year-old Akihito ends his three-decade reign on Tuesday as his son Crown Prince Naruhito, second from left, will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne on Wednesday. Empress Michiko is at right and Crown Princess Masako is at left. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan's Emperor Akihito speaks during the ceremony of his abdication in front of other members of the royal families and top government officials at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The 85-year-old Akihito ends his three-decade reign on Tuesday as his son Crown Prince Naruhito, left, will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne on Wednesday. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s Emperor Akihito speaks during the ceremony of his abdication in front of other members of the royal families and top government officials at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The 85-year-old Akihito ends his three-decade reign on Tuesday as his son Crown Prince Naruhito, left, will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne on Wednesday. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan's Emperor Akihito bows before leaving after the ceremony of his abdication in front of other members of the royal families and top government officials at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The 85-year-old Akihito ends his three-decade reign on Tuesday as his son Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne on Wednesday. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s Emperor Akihito bows before leaving after the ceremony of his abdication in front of other members of the royal families and top government officials at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The 85-year-old Akihito ends his three-decade reign on Tuesday as his son Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne on Wednesday. (Japan Pool via AP)
People bow toward the Imperial Palace as Emperor Akihito's abdication ceremony is held in Tokyo Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Emperor Akihito announced his abdication at the palace ceremony Tuesday in his final address, as the nation embraced the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era. (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)
People bow toward the Imperial Palace as Emperor Akihito’s abdication ceremony is held in Tokyo Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Emperor Akihito announced his abdication at the palace ceremony Tuesday in his final address, as the nation embraced the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era. (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)
People take photos of the famous double bridge in the compound of Imperial Palace in Tokyo Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate later in the day as Japan embraces the end of his reign with an emotion mixed with reminiscence and hopes for a new era. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
People take photos of the famous double bridge in the compound of Imperial Palace in Tokyo Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate later in the day as Japan embraces the end of his reign with an emotion mixed with reminiscence and hopes for a new era. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
TV screens show news program reporting on Emperor Akihito's abdication, at an electrical appliance store in Urayasu, near Tokyo Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Akihito announced at a ceremony that he is abdicating, in his final official address to his people. (Yukie Nishizawa/Kyodo News via AP)
TV screens show news program reporting on Emperor Akihito’s abdication, at an electrical appliance store in Urayasu, near Tokyo Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Akihito announced at a ceremony that he is abdicating, in his final official address to his people. (Yukie Nishizawa/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito, followed by new Empress Masako, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, walks to make his first address during a ritual after succeeding his father Akihito at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito, followed by new Empress Masako, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, walks to make his first address during a ritual after succeeding his father Akihito at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito receives the Imperial regalia of sword and jewel as proof of succession at the ceremony at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito receives the Imperial regalia of sword and jewel as proof of succession at the ceremony at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by new Empress Masako, makes his first address during a ritual after succeeding his father Akihito at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino are seen at left. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by new Empress Masako, makes his first address during a ritual after succeeding his father Akihito at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino are seen at left. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by new Empress Masako, makes his first address during a ritual after succeeding his father Akihito at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by new Empress Masako, makes his first address during a ritual after succeeding his father Akihito at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by new Empress Masako, leaves after making his first address during a ritual after succeeding his father Akihito at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by new Empress Masako, leaves after making his first address during a ritual after succeeding his father Akihito at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito, right, leaves after the ceremony to receive the Imperial regalia of sword and jewel as proof of succession at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Standing at back is Crown Prince Akishino. (Japan Pool via AP)
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito, right, leaves after the ceremony to receive the Imperial regalia of sword and jewel as proof of succession at Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Standing at back is Crown Prince Akishino. (Japan Pool via AP)
In this aerial photo, the motorcade of Japan's new Emperor Naruhito, second from left, move past well-wishers after attending his imperial rituals at the Imperial Palace Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Tokyo. Emperor Naruhito inherited Imperial regalia and seals as proof of his succession and pledged in his first public address Wednesday to follow his father's example in devoting himself to peace and staying close to the people. (Takuya Inaba/Kyodo News via AP)
In this aerial photo, the motorcade of Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito, second from left, move past well-wishers after attending his imperial rituals at the Imperial Palace Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Tokyo. Emperor Naruhito inherited Imperial regalia and seals as proof of his succession and pledged in his first public address Wednesday to follow his father’s example in devoting himself to peace and staying close to the people. (Takuya Inaba/Kyodo News via AP)
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito and new Empress Masako are driven to Imperial Palace to greet Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Naruhito succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne Wednesday after his father Akihito abdicated Tuesday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito and new Empress Masako are driven to Imperial Palace to greet Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Naruhito succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne Wednesday after his father Akihito abdicated Tuesday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
People gather in the compound near Imperial Palace in Tokyo Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Japan has new Emperor Naruhito after succeeding the Chrysanthemum Throne from his father Akihito who abdicated the night before. (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)
People gather in the compound near Imperial Palace in Tokyo Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Japan has new Emperor Naruhito after succeeding the Chrysanthemum Throne from his father Akihito who abdicated the night before. (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)
People gather around the Imperial Palace where Crown Prince Naruhito is to be enthroned to become new Japanese Emperor Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Tokyo. Japan has new Emperor Naruhito to perform his first ritual after succeeding the Chrysanthemum Throne from his father Akihito who abdicated the night before. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
People gather around the Imperial Palace where Crown Prince Naruhito is to be enthroned to become new Japanese Emperor Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Tokyo. Japan has new Emperor Naruhito to perform his first ritual after succeeding the Chrysanthemum Throne from his father Akihito who abdicated the night before. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
People celebrate as the countdown to new Emperor Naruhito's era of Reiwa, start, a few minutes before Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan. Emperor Akihito announced his abdication at a palace ceremony Tuesday in his final address. The screens, rear, shows that Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga unveiled the name of new era
People celebrate as the countdown to new Emperor Naruhito’s era of Reiwa, start, a few minutes before Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan. Emperor Akihito announced his abdication at a palace ceremony Tuesday in his final address. The screens, rear, shows that Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga unveiled the name of new era “Reiwa.” (Yohei Fukai/Kyodo News via AP)
People raise their arms in the air toward Imperial Palace in Tokyo Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Japan has new Emperor Naruhito and he will perform his first ritual hours after succeeding the Chrysanthemum Throne from his father Akihito who abdicated the night before. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
People raise their arms in the air toward Imperial Palace in Tokyo Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Japan has new Emperor Naruhito and he will perform his first ritual hours after succeeding the Chrysanthemum Throne from his father Akihito who abdicated the night before. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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