The theme of this yearâs waka poems was nozomi (hope).
Empress Masako, who has been suffering from a stress-induced illness, attended the traditional ceremony for the first time since 2003, while Crown Prince Akishino and his wife, Crown Princess Kiko, were also among the attendees.
In his poem, the emperor described his feelings after visits to schools over the past year, including Azabu Kindergarten in Tokyo in June and Gakushuin Girlsâ Senior High School, where their daughter Princess Aiko studies, in November.
The official translation of the emperorâs poem, provided by the Imperial Household Agency, is as follows:
When I hear the cheerful voices of children
Resounding through their classrooms
I hope from the bottom of my heart
They have a bright and beautiful future.
In her poem, the 56-year-old empress described her sadness at the damage caused by natural disasters in the country but also how she has been encouraged to see young people helping out with recovery efforts.