The private meeting at the Imperial Palace lasted around 30 minutes.
Pope Francis gave Emperor Naruhito a mosaic of the “View of the Arch of Titus”, based on a watercolor painting by the Roman artist Filippo Anivitti (1876-1955).
Japanese media made note of how the Emperor accompanied Pope Francis to his car. Usually guests depart with their retinue, while the Emperor remains inside.
Analysts say this is a sign of the special regard in which he holds Pope Francis.
After the brief meeting, the Pope traveled to Tokyo’s St Mary Cathedral to meet with young people.
Emperor Naruhito acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019. His reign is officially known as the Reiwa Era, translated as “Beautiful Harmony”.
The Emperor has some family connection to Catholicism.
His mother, Empress Michiko, comes from a Catholic family, and went to Catholic schools.
She received her undergraduate degree from Tokyo’s University of the Sacred Heart.