Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko take a brief stroll outside the Imperial Palace on April 7 as joggers appear surprised by their unannounced appearance. (Saki Rin)

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko took an unannounced stroll outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on April 7 and waved to surprised joggers and pedestrians along the route.

Akihito, in a dark jumper, and Michiko, wearing a thick jacket, emerged from the Kitahanebashimon Gate at the palace’s Kitanomaru Garden around 7:10 a.m.

Walking arm in arm, they viewed blossoms of “somei-yoshino” and “shidadre-zakura” cherry trees and acknowledged nearby onlookers before returning to palace through the Inuimon Gate five minutes later.

The couple is known to take a walk every morning inside the grounds of the Imperial Palace, but it is rare for them to stroll outside.

The emperor abdicates the throne on April 30.

Akihito and Michiko are expected to move into a temporary residence in Tokyo’s Minato Ward as soon as they get ready to move out of the Imperial Palace after abdication.