Crown Prince Fumihito of Japan and his family visit the holiest Shinto shrine

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Japan’s Crown Prince Fuhimito completed the last step to officially become first in line to the throne today. 

Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother, who is 56, travelled to Ise Shrine in Ise, Mie today, with his wife Crown Princess Kiko. 

The visit’s purpose was to proclaim the completion of a ritual known as Rikkoshi no Rei, which took place back in November 2020 and makes it official that Fuhimito is the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Nahurito, who ascended the throne himself in 2019 following the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito, does not have a male heir, and according to Japanese succession rules, only a man can ascend the throne. 

Japan's Crown Prince Fuhimito completed the last step to officially become first in line for the throne today at the Ise Shrine in the Prefecture of Mie

Japan’s Crown Prince Fuhimito completed the last step to officially become first in line for the throne today at the Ise Shrine in the Prefecture of Mie 

Dignitaries came to witness the ceremony, which makes Prince Fuhimito the official heir to his brother Emperor Nahurito

Dignitaries came to witness the ceremony, which makes Prince Fuhimito the official heir to his brother Emperor Nahurito 

Fuhimito, who also holds the title Crown Prince Akishino, looked poised during the ceremony, which took place by the Geku, the outer shrine of Ise Shrine today. 

He was wearing a ceremonious black tailcoat over grey trousers and a black vest. 

Meanwhile, Princess Kiko, who was walking behind him in accordance with Japanese royal protocol, looked elegant in a white dress, which she accessorised with a matching hat and her pearls.

Emperor Nahurito has one child, a daughter Aiko, known as Princess Toshi, who turned 20 in December, and recently assumed official royal duties. 

Crown Princess Kiko, right, attended the ceremony with her husband and walked behind him in accordance with royal protocol

Crown Princess Kiko, right, attended the ceremony with her husband and walked behind him in accordance with royal protocol 

The Japanese Crown Prince wore a tailcoat with a top hat and a vest. His wife looked elegant in a white gown

The Japanese Crown Prince wore a tailcoat with a top hat and a vest. His wife looked elegant in a white gown 

Because Nahurito has no male heir of his own, Fuhimito is the second-in-line for the throne, and today’s visit to the shrine made this official. 

All heirs to the Chrysanthemum Throne have had to complete the Rikkoshi no Rei ritual. 

The ritual first began in 2020, when Nahurito had to send envoys across Japan to locations which have a strong link with the Imperial family, to report that Fuhimito will be his heir. 

Dignitaries and members of the royal staff looked one and bowed as the heir-to-the-throne arrived for the ceremony

Dignitaries and members of the royal staff looked one and bowed as the heir-to-the-throne arrived for the ceremony 

Crown Princess Kiko wore the white dress of ceremony with a matching hat and her pearls, and a traditional fan

Crown Princess Kiko wore the white dress of ceremony with a matching hat and her pearls, and a traditional fan 

The Crown Prince, his spouse and other dignitaries arrived at the it the Geku, the outer shrine of Ise Shrine

The Crown Prince, his spouse and other dignitaries arrived at the it the Geku, the outer shrine of Ise Shrine

During the visit, Prince Fuhimito and Princess Kiko also visited the Naiku, the inner shrine of Ise Shrine

During the visit, Prince Fuhimito and Princess Kiko also visited the Naiku, the inner shrine of Ise Shrine

The locations included Ise Jingu, a Shinto shrine complex in Mie Prefecture, the mausoleum of Emperor Jinmu, Japan’s mythical first Emperor, in Nara Prefecture, and the mausoleum of Emperor Showa, Emperor Naruhito’s grandfather.

After the envoys reported on the news, ceremonies were performed at each sites. 

Today’s ceremony is the last of the ritual, meaning that Fuhimito is officially his brother’s heir. 

Fuhimito counts one son, Prince Hisahito of Akishino, who is 15 and currently a high school student.

Akishino is second in line to succeed his uncle, and will become first in line if his father ascends the throne, and will one day reign over Japan himself. 

The royals were led to the shrine by a guide wearing the traditional religious robe. Rituals toi make Fuhimito the official heir were started by Emperor Nahurito in November 2020

The royals were led to the shrine by a guide wearing the traditional religious robe. Rituals toi make Fuhimito the official heir were started by Emperor Nahurito in November 2020 

Fuhimito and Kiko during the ceremony. Emperor Nahurito does not have a male heir, which is why Fuhimito is first in line for the throne

Fuhimito and Kiko during the ceremony. Emperor Nahurito does not have a male heir, which is why Fuhimito is first in line for the throne 

Male and female attendees in traditional dress stood to attention during the historical ceremony

Male and female attendees in traditional dress stood to attention during the historical ceremony

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