The Japanese imperial family always makes two public appearances at the start of the new year: a glittering evening reception where the ladies wear tiaras and jewels, and a balcony appearance where they don daytime jewelry. Here's a look at the pieces we saw this year as the emperor greeted the people.
Empress Michiko wore a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, and a bracelet. (You'll start to notice that the pearls are something of a theme; the imperial ladies wear jewelry "uniforms" in the daytime as well as in the evening.)
Although she doesn't appear with the rest of the imperial ladies at the evening reception, Crown Princess Masako does generally take part in the balcony appearance. This year she wore a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, and a really interesting brooch that looks to be set with diamonds and pearls.
Photographers didn't provide close-up photographs of the Princess Akishino's jewels, but as you can probably guess, Kiko's wearing a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, and a brooch.
Princess Mako of Akishino, Kiko's elder daughter, is on the left; she wore -- yep -- a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, and a brooch.
The younger Akishino princess, Kako, wore the same jewelry uniform. On closer perusal of her brooch, I can't tell whether it is supposed to be floral (with stems) or an insect (with antenna).
The emperor's uncle and aunt, the Prince and Princess Mikasa, were on the balcony. Takahito is one of the oldest royals in the world; he celebrated his 100th birthday in 2015. His wife, Yuriko, wore a pearl necklace. She paired it with earrings and a brooch that appear to have some sort of diamond floral motif.
We also got very far-away glimpses of a few more imperial ladies. Above, you can see (from left) Princess Ayako of Takamado and Princess Tsuguko of Takamado, then their mother, the Princess Takamado (who looks to be wearing an interesting brooch). They're the daughter-in-law and granddaughters of the Prince and Princess Mikasa. Beside them, in the dark red dress, is the Princess Hitachi, sister-in-law of the emperor. Her husband, the emperor's brother, is seated beside her.
On the other side of the balcony is the rest of the Mikasa family. Princess Tomohito of Mikasa, another daughter-in-law of the Prince and Princess Mikasa, is standing beside Princess Kako. One of her daughters is standing beside her; based on her height, I think it's Princess Akiko. (Fun fact: Akiko has a doctorate from Oxford. In fact, no fewer than four of the people on the balcony -- Fumihito, Prince Akishino; Kiko, Princess Akishino; Hisako, Princess Takamado; and Princess Akiko of Mikasa -- have earned doctoral degrees. Akiko's specialty is art, while Fumihito is an expert in ornithology, Kiko has a doctorate in psychology, and Hisako's PhD is in the arts. The Prince Hitachi has done important cancer research, and he also has two honorary doctorates; the Prince Mikasa has lectured on Middle Eastern Studies at universities in Japan and abroad. Impressive!)
...and here's another view of Masako's jewels, just for kicks. Isn't it great to see her?