Japanese Imperial Family celebrate New Year with greeting ceremony and tiaras

Japanese Imperial Family celebrate New Year with greeting ceremony and tiaras

On January 1, the Japanese Imperial Family took part in the annual New Year Greeting Ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo which brought out lots of sparkly jewels.

Emeror and Empress at New Years greeting 2016

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko – who did not wear a tiara, but did wear a giant brooch.

The Emperor’s 2016 New Year message:

    As last year was the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, it was a year in which many of us spent much time thinking about the war. In welcoming the new year, I would like to renew my prayer for peace both for our country and our people.
    It will soon be five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and it pains me to think that there are still people who cannot return to the places they used to live and those who must endure the hardships of living in temporary housing. I hope that these people will take good care of their health through the cold winter, and that further progress will be made in the recovery of the afflicted areas.
    Our country Japan is indeed blessed with beautiful nature, but at the same time, we are prone to natural disasters. It is my sincere hope that each and every Japanese cultivate an awareness of disaster prevention and continue to look out for each other and be prepared to protect themselves at all times.
    May the new year bring happiness to the people of our country and the people around the world.

Japan Imperial Family New Years greeting 2016 1

L-R: Princess Kiko (wife of Prince Akishino, the second son of the Emperor); Princess Mako; Princess Kako; Hanako, Princess Hitachi; Nobuko, Princess Tomohito of Mikasa.

Japan Imperial Family New Years greeting 2016 2

Starting with the woman in pink, L-R: Princess Akiko of Mikasa; Princess Yoko of Mikasa; Hisako, Princess Takamado; Princess Tsuguko of Takamado; Princess Ayako of Takamado.

So many tiaras. When each royal woman turns twenty (or joins the family) they are gifted with a diamond parure for their own personal use. And when they’re all lined up like this, it’s just a sea of tiaras. All the ladies are wearing varying classes of the Order of the Precious Crown (Japan).

The Emperor celebrated his 82nd birthday on December 23, with a balcony appearance at the Imperial Palace and a dinner. The balcony appearance brought out Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, as well as the Prince Akishino, Princess Kiko, and their daughters, Mako and Kako.

Crown Princess Masako

By the way, the line of succession is quite interesting in Japan. Due to the nature of Japan’s primogeniture succession laws, a woman cannot rule in her own right, which caused a bit of a crises in the early 2000s. The Crown Prince has one daughter, born in 2001, and no sons. Prince Akishino has two daughters and one son born in 2006. There was a movement before 2006 to allow a woman to rule but it was dropped with the birth of Akishino’s son. So the line of succession is: Crown Prince Naruhito, Prince Akishino (the Emperor’s second son), Prince Hisahito of Akishino (Akishino’s son).

Photos: ANN Screengrab / Getty

48 thoughts on “Japanese Imperial Family celebrate New Year with greeting ceremony and tiaras

  1. 1.) I LOVE CP Masako and I’m glad she’s coming out more. Her eyes exude such warmth, IMO.

    2.) Oh my! Those tiaras! So many and yet, great detail for each one! Beautiful!!

  2. Lovely post. Always great to see the Japanese Royals. I was wondering about the dress of the women and why the majority we were in white. Is there an age limit or marriage requirement? The ladies were all beautiful and the sea of tiaras oh my!

  3. I think that’s a lovely tradition and will be starting that tradition in my own family, starting with buying a tiara for myself and my daughter!! Then when my granddaughters turn 20 I will buy them tiaras too and we’ll wear them on New Year’s day! Does anyone know what happens when a princess marries outside the royal family? I know that lose their right to be called Princess but do they lose the jewels as well?

    I find the protocols of the Japanese royals very interesting, for instance the hand placement with the fan and gloves seems to be very precise. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for someone born outside the family to adjust to the strict protocols, but it’s heartening to see CP Masako appearing at more events I hope she’s starting to feel stronger and better.

  4. Love to learn something new about different royal families. I wonder if they keep all of the tiaras in a central location. Can you imagine just walking into that vault to see them? jI imagine it would be pretty breathtaking.

    Happy to see CP Masako out and about more. She looks very pretty in her burgundy (or is it maroon?) outfit.

    Why are some referred to as Princess X while others are Princess X of Y? Also I think it’s a bit sad and unfair that CP’s daughter can’t rule and it will be passed on to the second son (and his son) after the Emperor passes. Although I imagine it may be a little weight off of her shoulders.

    All of these tiaras of late have got me interested in finding some books about them for more details.

    1. From what I’ve been able to figure out is that the current CP will ascend the throne when the current emperor dies. And then the shifting and shuffling starts

    2. “Prince or princess” is the one that carries the title “prince or princess of” is the child of the one who carries said title (as if to say son or daughter of said person). It is my understanding that this is valid only in the several branches of the imperial family and not in the main one, hence we have prince Akishino and prince Hisahito of Akishino while Aiko is princess Toshi and not princess Aiko of Hiro (her father’s title).

    3. From what I understand, the current Crown Prince will become Emperor when the current one dies, then the CPs brother will become heir. I don’t know if he will be called the Crown Prince at that time, though.

      It sucks that there are still monarchies in which being born female means you are “less than”. I’m glad for monarchies like Sweden who have done away with that. The Brits have now, too, finally.

      1. The japanese succession line is worst than that believe me. The crown will pass on to Akishino upon Naruhito’s death, but even if there were no Akishino the crown would have gone to the emperors brother and if he were dead to his descendants and then to the closes male relations. Never to a female (unlike the brits). It’s really sad, but Confucius did a really big number on the asian population and women are still considered way beneath men and should be silent, compliant and should serve her husband and his parents faithfully.

        1. It used to be like that in England before Henry VII changed the laws to allow a woman to rule in her own right.

    1. Simple answer: My blog, my choice.

      Longer answer: I cover Kate whenever there is something related to her to cover, and bump articles about other royals to do so. However, Kate does not do enough to fill up the entire year so I cover other royals when Kate isn’t doing anything. Also, tiaras.

      BTW, renaming the site is not as easy as updating the title of the blog. I would have to buy a while new domain name.

      1. Looks like we’re off and running! Should we keep a tally of some sorts? Keep writing what you want KMR as you said it’s your blog!!

          1. Thank you Mary Elizabeth! I had a blog very briefly. It’s called “The Democrat and Monocle” if anyone wants to waste time trying to find it. On it, I put something to the effect “I do not have a comment section because this is my blog, for my opinions. If you want to sprout off, get your own blog or go see a competent psychotherapist.” Keep doing what you’re doing KMR.

      2. +1 I came for Kate and I stay for the Europeans, Japanese and was fascinated by the Bhutanese royal family. Plus posture notes, breakfast choices and so it goes on!!

  5. Fantastic post KMR. I think Japanese Royas are very interesting. Those tiaras are great and the ladies seem very regal.

  6. It’s always nice to see Masako out and about. Entering the japanese imperial family ruined her health and happiness, I’m happy that Naruhito has always been right next to her and protected her from those vultures of the imperial household agency.

    1. Lauren~ agreed 1,000%. Whatever *bleep* Masako went through within the imperial household, Prince Naruhito stood by each step of the way and has taken care of her and their daughter. Shame Princess Aiko isn’t in line for the throne. I bet she’d make a wonderful Empress.

  7. Masako’s story makes me so angry. Ditto the Empress.

    Their shocking story is the only reason I can’t enjoy the japanese royal family.

      1. FuMama,

        Here are some great links that explain the situation regarding CP Masako and Empress Michiko (plus, the backstory of the current empress’s mother in law. Trust me, it’s important).

        Fair Warning: they’re long but wonderfully descriptive and detailed.

        http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2013/04/29/history-nagako-japans-ferocious-dowager-empress-2004/ <—-it helps you understand what the current empress experienced. Princess Nagako/Dowager Empress Kojun was a piece of work and it's sad that she had Michiko experience the bullying she herself went through during the early 20th century.

        http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2012/12/08/the-chrysanthemum-throne-part-iii-post-war-japan-a-royal-love-story-2004/ <—-CP Masako–part 1

        http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2012/12/08/the-chrysanthemum-throne-part-iv-the-princess-and-the-grey-men-2004/ <—-CP Masako–part 2

        KMR, I hope it's okay that I added these links to explain everything regarding Michiko and Masako.

  8. When CP Masako married in 93, I thought we would never have entertainment like the Diana interview in 92. I loved her white dress after the ceremony and how her hair was done with the tiara. It’s just tragic how she couldn’t rise above everything else and take whatever she has in life to make it happy i.e. the sole daughter that she has.

    Empress Michiko must be one tough lady. She had advantages that she married younger and was able to produce a male heir but I don’t think her life was easier than CP Masako’s.

    What I love about the Japanese is how natural their makeup is. I think the ladies can use a bit more lip gloss but I think it has to do with royal protocol.

    1. I’ve heard/read that Empress Michiko’s life within the Imperial Family was harder because her MIL was such a ‘witch’ (give or take a letter πŸ˜‰ ) and, a few times, had nervous breakdowns that, literally, rendered her silent for months at a time (1960s and 1990s are the times I’ve heard of).

      I’ve seen pictures of CP Masako and Prince Naruhito with Princess Aiko when she was a baby and while you could definitely see how much they utterly adored and were (and still are) devoted to her, I’m sure a tiny sliver part of them wishes she were a he but, again, I’m sure they wouldn’t trade her for all the males in the world.

  9. Beautiful post, KMR. Oh, those tiaras!

    And, how poignant a speech concerning the losses so many endured as a result of the earthquake years ago.

    I love learning more about other Royals and do feel sadly about the lack of female succession to the throne. It makes one wonder when things, if ever, will turn around in other cultures. Maybe, that’s not my business, though.

    1. I think it is all our business.

      Every single person who has ever made a difference, from Rosa Parks to Ghandhi to Emilie Pankhurst to Anita Singh to Mandela to Malala etc saw it as a community issue even if others did not.

      The situation with the Imperial Court requires some bra-burning, throwing themselves in the path of carriages, firebrand oratory feminists. No matter their culture or race. Gentle persuasion will not cut it and I doubt they’d notice it.

      We are all human beings, even if some have been elevated, and what concerns Masako should concern all of us because otherwise we are the silent majority that allow evil to flourish in the form of this woman being destroyed.

      And her treatment pervades society because we look away at all the other women being destroyed.

      1. Herazeur, I certainly understand your comment and agree. You are right, it is everyone’s business. I feel badly that I said what I did in my above post. I guess I just didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but you are right, I need to put on my Stilettos and step!

        1. And as the UK can show our greatest monarchs have been queens – ER1 wow what a lady in a time of such unrest, Victoria and now QE II
          Equality is essential – and it my biggest issue with Monaco too.

          1. While Victoria and QEII are the longest reigning, I wouldn’t call either of them the greatest.

        2. Jenny, I didn’t mean to come on so strong with you.

          The situation with Masako touches such a raw nerve for me.

          I recently watched a briliant documentary on youtube called Suffragettes (not the fictional film with Meryl Streep) and it reminded me where we’ve come from.

          Masako might be Japanese, but it’s not so long ago when we western women suffered the same plight.

          It’s incredible to think that in the modern age, we can allow this to continue. In any culture.

          Birdy: Queens, wherever you find them, have always been more interesting than the men.

  10. What a beautiful post. I’ve always been in awe of the symbolism and ceremony in thevery Japanese culture. I don’t know much about this family, but I know the story of Masako and it’s sad. I need to re-read how the line of succession works here as i.got a bit confused.

    The tiaras and pageantry is exquisite. Thanks for this roundup, KMR.

  11. Awesome roundup KMR, as always. And we think the “gray men” at Buckingham Palace are a pain in the rear end. They ought to take lessons from the Imperial Household Agency. William would be in fits for months if they adopted that attitude. πŸ™‚ And yes I am being judgmental, and quite happily, I might add. πŸ™‚

  12. This was an excellent post, KMR. I have read all the comments thus far, but could someone fill me in on CP Masako? I know only that she has struggled with depression and is rarely seen in public. I don’t understand what else has happened to her within the royal family, how she has been treated, etc. What is the story?

    1. The Crown Prince fell in love with the highly educated, independent daughter of a diplomat and legal professional (too many legal positions to sum up his legal career) who was forging a career in the diplomatic services herself.

      He relentlessly pursued her until she relented and married him. Though it’s tragically ironic th apparently she turned down his proposal 3 times in fear of the restrictions the court would place on her.

      However the very things that were celebrated about her ie a new type of princess who was educated and modern, were used against her by the court.

      As an example she was highly censored for speaking during their engagement interview, speaking and having independent thought apparently being unbecoming in a woman especially one about to marry the crown prince.

      And it all went downhill from there.

      She was kept away from any and all duties that didn’t tally with what the imperial court deemed fit for a royal woman. She was never allowed to be independent again or even speak her own words. Only to be seen, definitely never to be heard. Any attempts by her were swiftly stifled.

      And then there was the trauma of being slow in delivering an heir. She endured years of trying, amongst rumours that she was being subjected to IVF treatments to make it happen. After 8yrs, She finally had a baby girl. A huge disappointment. It caused a reshuffle of the line of succession so that her husband’s brother became the crown prince. The brother also swiftly had a baby boy to secure his position. It has been suggested very strongly that the brother used gender selection to ensure that his wife had that boy.

      After all the cruelty and disappointments, she had a nervous breakdown and wasn’t seen in public for years.

      Every time we see her in public these days, it’s a triumph and to be celebrated because if any of the rumours, nevermind the ones confirmed, are true, that woman has been through hell and back.

      The same treatment was metted out to the empress, but she had a difficult MIL to contend with, as well as the imperial court. She had a nervous breakdown too.

      1. What Herazeus said. I made mention of Empress Michiko’s MIL a few comments above. From what I’ve heard/read, Empress Kojun was a piece of work (to put it mildly).

        Though CP Masako has been through so much, I hope she (and her husband) have instilled a lot a strong sense of self in their daughter.

        Also, I thought it was Masako’s SIL (Princess Kiko, she’s up there in the photo line-up) who was insistent on having a third child even though her two daughters were well into their teens and that it was her husband (Prince Fumihito, Prince Akishino) was the one against the pregnancy. (Not trying to pick a fight-honest-just letting you know what I’ve heard/read over the years.)

      2. Like I wrote above somewhere, the grey men in Buckingham Palace could learn a thing of how to dominant and break down a person from the Imperial Household Agency.

        1. Exactly Seth. All these put upon snowflake princesses in the BRF should thank their lucky stars they didn’t marry into the Japanese royal family.

          Kimothy: you are right. Princess Kiko (?) was the chief instigator. I’ve heard that she’s a very conniving operator.

          Sometimes when you read about strong women like her, even if they are using their strength against others, it makes me wonder how she would have coped in the crown princess position.

          Somehow I see her surviving, on her own terms, and beating the court at it’s own game.

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