Photo/IllutrationEmperor Akihito and Empress Michiko greet Rio Olympics medalists and other prominent guests at a spring garden party the couple hosted at Akasaka Imperial Gardens in Tokyo. (Tatsuya Shimada)

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko hosted their spring garden party in Tokyo on April 20 in which they greeted Rio Olympics gold medalists, who were among about 2,000 people in attendance.

“You must be proud of your accomplishment,” the emperor said to kimono-clad Kaori Icho, who won gold in the 58-kilogram women's wrestling division last August.

Icho was one of the many medalists from last year’s Summer Games invited to the gathering at Akasaka Imperial Gardens after the autumn garden party for 2016 was called off because Prince Mikasa, Akihito’s uncle, died in October. The imperial couple hosts a garden party in both spring and autumn.

Michiko congratulated Ai Fukuhara, who won a bronze medal in the women’s table tennis team competition, on her marriage in September and commended her for leading the contingent superbly.

“You did a great job as captain,” the empress said.

Turning to Kumamoto Governor Ikuo Kabashima, the emperor said, “Please take care of yourself and help and work for residents.”

Under Kabashima, the prefecture in central Kyushu is striving to rebuild communities stricken by a spate of earthquakes a year ago.

The emperor and empress were joined by other members of the imperial family, including Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako.