Emperor Hirohito was laid to rest Friday at the end of a day of lavish but solemn ceremonies witnessed by President Bush and leaders from more than 160 nations.
A 21-gun salute and the playing of traditional high-pitched flutes, drums and gongs by musicians in ancient Japanese garments set the tone for the 13-hour funeral as a 32-car cortege made a journey from the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo to the Shinjuku Imperial Gardens 4 miles away in a cold rain."The people will remember him forever," Emperor Akihito, 55, said during the service rich in Shinto religion rituals at the garden. Hirohito reigned over the most turbulent era of Japanese history as god-king before World War II and a "symbol of state" during the post-war economic miracle.
Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita said Hirohito's 62-year reign, the longest in Japanese history, was filled with "eventful and turbulent times for Japan, including the calamities of that deplorable war."
"During all these years, Emperor Hirohito ardently wished for world peace and the well-being of the Japanese people and he always remained at one with them in the effort to overcome the nation's difficulties," Takeshita said.
At the end of the service, Bush and about 700 representatives from 163 nations and 28 international organizations bowed to the ornate palanquin bearing Hirohito's remains, and then to the new emperor in a symbolic gesture to the past and present.
Rainy weather put a damper on the public turnout along the funeral procession route, with only 200,000 people lining the street. But millions watched the ceremony on television.
Despite the tightest security in modern Japan, suspected leftist radicals managed to penetrate the heavy police cordon by setting off a powerful bomb on a hillside above a highway where the funeral procession passed 20 minutes later. It was the most violent of numerous protests against the monarchy.
There were no casualties and little damage but the bomb gouged a 4-yard diameter hole in the hillside.
Members of the imperial family, Takeshita and other Japanese dignitaries were in the motorcade but there were no foreign dignitaries in the procession to the royal mausoleum in a western Tokyo suburb where Hirohito was buried in a three-hour ceremony.
A procession of 155 ceremonial officials bearing imperial banners walked ahead of the hearse along a 400-meter gravel path leading from the main gate of the mausoleum to the tomb. His coffin was placed in a stone enclosure in a 3-meter deep hole carved into the hillside.
Hirohito, who died of cancer Jan. 7 at age 87, was once considered a living god and head priest of the native Japanese faith before he was forced to renounce his divinity and relegated to a symbolic head of state following Japan's defeat in World War II.
The funeral at the Imperial Garden was separated into two parts, the first a Shinto ceremony and the second a government-sponsored state memorial. The division was made to placate opposition parties who strictly adhere to the separation of church and state.
Several miles away, some 800 protesters marched through downtown Tokyo, burning Japanese flags and calling for the government to apologize for war crimes committed during Hirohito's reign. There was a brief scuffle but no arrests were made.
Following the service, many of the world leaders headed off to continue rounds of "funeral diplomacy" that were to continue through the weekend, but most of the visitors were expected to leave Saturday.
Bush leaves Saturday for China and then heads for South Korea, the final stop of his Asia-Pacific swing.
Like the pharoahs of Egypt, Hirohito was buried with mementos he treasured most in life - including a microscope he used as a marine biologist, a Mickey Mouse watch and a list of sumo wrestlers.