Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrive at Nemunoki Garden in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward in a car on a rainy June 18. The couple spent about 10 minutes in the garden. (The Asahi Shimbun)

As Empress Michiko strolled through a small public park in Tokyo where her family home used to stand, she spotted a nostalgic sight that brought a smile to her face.

“Oh, it is blooming,” Michiko said in delight on June 18, when she saw a rose named “Princess Michiko,” which was a gift from Britain in 1966. She was the crown princess at the time before Emperor Akihito’s succession to the throne.

One Princess Michiko flower was blooming in the garden, according to Shinagawa Ward Mayor Takeshi Hamano, who accompanied the imperial couple.

The imperial couple made the unannounced private visit to Nemunoki Garden in Shinagawa Ward, set up on the grounds of the former Shoda family residence, which is now run by the ward government.

It was their first visit to the garden in two years. They walked through the park for about 10 minutes in the rain while holding up umbrellas.