Waving Hinomaru national flags, well-wishers celebrate Emperor Akihito’s 85th birthday at the Imperial Palace on Dec. 23. (Asahi Shimbun)

About 82,850 well-wishers braved the cold and gloom to celebrate Emperor Akihito's 85th birthday at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Dec. 23, the most during his reign since 1989, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

The national holiday marked Akihito's last birthday as emperor, as he will abdicate at the end of April to bring a close to the Heisei Era.

Cheers erupted from the massive crowd when the emperor appeared at the veranda of the Imperial Palace, along with Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako, Prince Fumihito and his wife, Princess Kiko, and their two daughters, Princess Mako and Princess Kako.

“I am truly happy to receive the best wishes from so many people like this," Akihito said.

He also said he “is deeply concerned” about people who lost their loved ones and who are forced to live a difficult life following a spell of major disasters that struck Japan earlier this year.

Two large screens were installed this year so that people in the back could view the imperial family shown on them.

The agency said that the emperor has shown signs of a cold, including a sore throat, from a few days ago and that Michiko had a slight fever.

(This article was written by Yudai Ogata and Akiko Tada.)