Emperor Naruhito to be formally enthroned today

Guards patrol outside the Imperial Palace on the day Emperor Naruhito is formally enthroned in Tokyo, Japan on Oct 22, 2019.
Guards patrol outside the Imperial Palace on the day Emperor Naruhito is formally enthroned in Tokyo, Japan on Oct 22, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Empress Masako arrives at the Imperial Palace on the day Emperor Naruhito is formally enthroned in Tokyo, Japan on Oct 22, 2019.
Japan's Empress Masako arrives at the Imperial Palace on the day Emperor Naruhito is formally enthroned in Tokyo, Japan on Oct 22, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS
Japan's Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko arrive at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan on Oct 22, 2019.
Japan's Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko arrive at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan on Oct 22, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Emperor Naruhito will be formally enthroned today before world dignitaries at the Imperial Palace, donning a dark orange robe that is worn only on rare special occasions.

The half-hour event, known as the Sokuirei Seiden no Gi, will be held at the Matsu no Ma (Pine Room), the most prestigious room in the palace, at 1pm (noon Singapore time).

The monarch, 59, will ascend the 6.5m-tall Takamikura Imperial Throne, in a ritual that dates to the Nara period (710-784). The current throne was made in 1913. His wife, Empress Masako, 55, will be next to him on the 5.7m-tall Michodai seat.

Court chamberlains will place the imperial regalia - a sword and a jewel - and the state and privy seals beside the imperial throne.

The Emperor will deliver an imperial address before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gives a congratulatory speech and leads three cheers of "banzai" (long live the Emperor).

Foreign dignitaries, including Singapore President Halimah Yacob, will watch the ceremony on monitors in a separate location. Unlike Japanese guests, they are not expected to bow to the Emperor, nor take part in the cheers.

Emperor Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, marking the dawn of the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) Era, when his father, Akihito, 85, abdicated.

Now the Emperor Emeritus, Akihito is the first Japanese monarch to give up his throne in about 200 years. Both he and his wife, Empress Emerita Michiko, 85, will not attend the Sokuirei Seiden no Gi.

Under the original plan, ceremonial attendants and guards carrying swords and bows will line up in the outdoor imperial courtyard, which will be decorated with 26 colourful banners and spears.

 
 
 

But a high chance of rain today means the wet-weather plan may be activated, with the officials moved indoors and the banners removed. This is to protect the ceremonial clothing donned by the officials and the imperial relics they carry, as well as the flags.

There were plans for the royal couple to take part in a public procession after the ceremony, but this was postponed to Nov 10, out of respect for the lives lost in the deadly Typhoon Hagibis, which struck the country on Oct 12.

Tonight, Emperor Naruhito will host dignitaries to the Kyoen no Gi court banquet, when foreign guests can view the imperial throne.

The banquet will be a nine-course dinner, set to Japanese imperial court music in the background.

Mr Jiro Okuyama, vice-grandmaster of ceremonies at the Imperial Household Agency, told reporters that dishes like asparagus wrapped with beef and deep-fried crab will be served. He said the menu had been modified to take into account the food restrictions of each leader.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2019, with the headline 'Emperor Naruhito to be formally enthroned today'. Print Edition | Subscribe