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Emperor and empress visit Kapiolani Park


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko spent about a half-hour at Kapiolani Park this afternoon, their first stop in a three-day visit to Hawaii.

The couple visited the shower tree that they had planted nearly 50 years earlier. The park visit, which temporarily closed a portion of Kalakaua Avenue, is expected to be the only public appearance of the trip.

A crowd of several hundred onlookers was kept about 50 yards away from imperial couple, their entourage and several local dignitaries, including Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former Gov. George Ariyoshi.

The emperor did spend a few minutes speaking in Japanese to a group of about 50 Japanese-language elementary school students from Oahu.

The couple was expected to head to the Kahala Hotel, where they would spend the night.

Their visit jammed up afternoon H-1 traffic as their motorcade traveled from Hickam Air Force Base to the park.

They will spend tomorrow on Oahu and end their Hawaii trip Thursday on the Big Island.