Akihito is an emperor of Japan from 1989. As scion of the oldest imperial family in the world, he, according to tradition, became the 125th direct descendant of Jimmu, Japan’s legendary first emperor, in 1990 and since then he was well-known for his humanitarian gestures. In addition, he was also famous for the first member of the Imperial family to marry a commoner.
In 1940, he attended the Peers' School, however, after that he left Tokyo for his safety toward the end of World War II. During this time, he was trained in the English language and Western culture by American author and librarian Elizabeth Gray Vining. In the late 1940s, he returned to the Peers School and then entered at Gakushuin University in 1952.
On 10 April 1959, he got married to Michiko Shōda, the eldest daughter of Hidesaburo Shōda, the president and later honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Company, with three children, including Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, Fumihito, Prince Akishino and Sayako Kuroda.