Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko visit a tennis club in Tokyo’s Minato Ward on May 5. (Tatsuya Shimada)

In their first outing out of the Imperial Palace since his abdication, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko visited the prestigious Tokyo tennis club on May 5 where their love blossomed on the court.

The couple arrived at the Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club in the capital's Minato Ward at 4:20 p.m. by car and mingled with their tennis friends from over the years.

They were dressed casually, with Akihito in a gray jacket and Michiko in a beige pullover and trousers.

The facility is well known as the venue where they cultivated their romance by playing tennis together before their marriage on April 10, 1959.

More than 100 members of the tennis club welcomed Akihito and Michiko and chatted with them, in turn, according to Kazuo Oda, 83, one of their tennis friends.

When Oda told Akihito that the imperial succession had went smoothly, he replied, “Thank you.”

Although Akihito and Michiko did not play tennis this time, Akihito agreed when Oda suggested that he continue playing tennis to stay healthy, he added.

After chatting with their friends for about an hour, they left as the members went out of the tennis club building to see them off.

Akihito, 85, abdicated on April 30.