On Sunday, the imperial family of Japan gathered for the final part of the ceremonies celebrating the installment of the country’s new emperor: the official proclamation of the nation’s crown prince. Today, we’ve got a look at the jewels and pageantry that surrounded the completion of the imperial succession celebrations.
The emperor and empress dressed in traditional Japanese attire for the Rikkoshi-Senmei-no-Gi ceremony at the Imperial Palace. During the ceremony, the Emperor declared, “I proclaim to those at home and abroad that Fumihito is crown prince.” Crown Prince Fumihito, the 54-year-old younger brother of Emperor Naruhito, was supposed to be officially proclaimed as the heir to the throne back in April. The public celebrations were delayed for seven months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crown Prince Fumihito also spoke during the 15-minute ceremony, declaring, “I will discharge my duties solemnly bearing in mind my responsibilities as crown prince.”
(I anticipate one big question today: Emperor Naruhito has a daughter, Princess Aiko, so why is his brother being proclaimed the heir to the throne? It’s because the Imperial House Law of 1947, which governs the Japanese imperial succession, confirmed the exclusion of women from the line of succession to the throne. After Aiko’s birth, the Japanese government considered amending the law to allow women to be dynasts. But then Prince Fumihito and his wife, Princess Kiko, had a son, Prince Hisahito. The latest reports suggest that the issue has been tabled in Japan for the foreseeable future, and changes wouldn’t be considered unless Hisahito one day fails to have a son of his own. The big problem is this: after the current emperor, there are only three men in the entire imperial family: Crown Prince Fumihito, 14-year-old Prince Hisahito, and 84-year-old Prince Hitachi. By the time Hisahito has children of his own, the other members of the family — all women, and most of whom are more than a decade older than he is — may have married [thus losing their imperial status] or may be past childbearing age. The entire future of the Japanese monarchy currently depends on one teenage boy.)
The rest of the imperial family gathered for the ceremony inside the palace’s throne room. The doors were open to provide ventilation, and everyone (with the exception of the emperor, empress, crown prince, and crown princess) observed social distancing and masking protocols.
Both of the crown princely couple’s daughters were in attendance. (In Japan, princes and princesses don’t begin attending court functions until they turn 20. Prince Hisahito is 14, while Princess Aiko, daughter of the emperor, is 18.) Princess Mako, the couple’s elder daughter, wore the same geometric diamond and pearl brooch she wore in February 2020 for the celebrations of the emperor’s birthday.
Princess Kako repeated the same outfit from the February birthday party, wearing it with pearls and a floral brooch. (Behind her, Princess Hitachi is wearing a very interesting brooch that looks to be set with a large sapphire.)
We also got a quick glimpse of the attire and jewels worn by the rest of the family. (Princess Tomohito of Mikasa also repeated her birthday party ensemble and jewels.) Princess Takamado’s necklace with pendant is another piece I wish we’d seen in more detail!
Crown Prince Fumihito continued the commemorations with a visit to the Kashiko-dokoro shrine on the grounds of the Imperial Palace
Crown Princess Kiko joined her husband for the visit to the imperial shrine. Both were dressed in traditional Japanese attire for the visit.
Outside the shrine, six members of the imperial family, including Princess Mako and Princess Kako, watched the proceedings. (The princesses changed their clothes after the earlier ceremony inside the palace.) Social distancing was again enforced, and masks were worn. Princess Mako wore a floral brooch with her pearls.
Her younger sister, Princess Kako, also wore a small brooch with a floral design, plus pearl earrings and a single-stranded pearl necklace.
Also present, wearing pearls and a silver-toned brooch, was Princess Akiko, daughter of the late Prince Tomohito of Mikasa.
Her sister, Princess Yoko, also wore pearls and a silver-toned brooch. (You’ll note the similarities in the clothing and jewelry of all six women; they are wearing standard court dress.)
Princess Takamado is always one of the most interesting jewelry-wearers in the imperial family, and her brooch at the shrine definitely helped confirm that title. The brooch appears to be set with diamonds and pearls.
Her daughter, Princess Tsuguko, wore the standard pearls and floral brooch as well.
In the afternoon, the crown princely couple returned to the imperial palace, where they were received by the emperor and empress for the Choken-no-gi ritual.
The royals wore Western attire for this ceremony, including tiaras and jewels for the ladies. Empress Masako glittered in the Meiji Tiara, plus diamond earrings, a double diamond riviere, and a diamond brooch.
Crown Princess Kiko sparkled in the mirrored parure traditionally worn by Japanese crown princesses. Before her, the set was worn by both Empress Michiko and Empress Masako on their wedding days.
The Choken-no-gi ceremony is a traditional “first audience” with the imperial couple, and it involves a symbolic meal. Both couples were seated before tables laden with soups, fish, duck, seafood, and rice.
None of the food is actually consumed during the ceremony — it’s all part of the symbolism of the ritual.
After completing the Choken-no-gi ritual, Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko left the palace by car for a visit with his parents, the retired Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. They current live in the Takanawa Imperial Residence in Tokyo, the former home of Prince and Princess Takamatsu. It’s a temporary residence for the emeritus couple, who will move into the Akasaka Palace once it is retrofitted for their use.
Huge thanks to Prisma, who shared a treasure trove of information about these events on Twitter this weekend!