Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako Current Events Part 1: May 2019 -

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Jan 29, 2005
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Welcome to Part 1 of the thread for the Current Events of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako!

The old thread can be found here:

** Crown Prince Naruhito & Crown Princess Masako Current Events 6: January 2016 - April 2019 **

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Major upcoming events for Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako*

May 25-28: US state visit (welcome and banquet are scheduled for May 27)
June 2: National Tree Planting Festival in Aichi Prefecture
August 15: National end of World War II memorial service
September 8: National Sea Enrichment Festival in Akita Prefecture
September 16: National Cultural Festival in Niigata Prefecture
September 28: National Sports Festival in Ibaraki Prefecture

Empress Masako's first major event where she'll lead is the Japanese Red Cross Society annual meeting on May 22.

* Empress Masako's attendance depends on her physical condition.

Source: Sankei

New Japanese emperor to start national tour from June - Kyodo News+
Both. Naruhito has mentioned Masako's fatigue in past press conferences and Japan's media frequently uses the phrase "physical condition" when reporting her status.
On May 7th, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visited the Imperial Palace to rehearse their first court ritual scheduled for the next day. Actually, Emperor Naruhito arrived earlier for office work but the couple left together around 7pm.

The emperor and empress usually wear traditional sokutai and jūnihitoe for court rituals (sometimes the crown prince couple as well) whereas other family members wear morning dress or long dress+hats.


Imperial couple arriving separately and leaving together later:
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Will we see any photos of them in their sokutai and junihitohe robes, or is the ritual completely private? I know we've seen photos of Akihito occasionally as he moved from one area of a shrine to another, but wasn't sure if this would be a similar situation.

I believe there a quite a number fo these rituals each year and I think generally they are not filmed. However, since it will be the first time for the new Emperor and Empress to perform these rituals we may well get some images and footage - I hope so!
We'll probably get video and photos. It's the first court ritual for the new emperor and empress. The emperor reports the date of the enthronement ceremony to the Three Palace Sanctuaries: Kashikodokoro, Koreiden, and Shinden.

I guess Masako didn't need to wear traditional robes when she attended the 30-year anniversary of Emperor Showa's death in January. Japan media highlighted tomorrow's ritual will be Masako's first time wearing the heavy, multi-layer junihitoe since her wedding. 26 years ago!

fnn.jp, fnn.jp2
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I'm hoping for at least photos, even if we don't get video. I'm sure Masako has recently had some practice sessions wearing the junihitoe, since in addition to being heavy, it must be awkward to move in if you are unaccustomed. There was an interesting little video accompanying the linked article that shows that for someone who aren't used to it, even leaning over to dip her hands in the river was a bit of an effort for this young woman. She also comments on how unexpectedly heavy it was.

Heroine of Kyoto festival ?purifies? herself prior to the procession?The Asahi Shimbun
On May 8th, Emperor Naruhito reported the dates of the "Sokui-no-Rei" enthronement ceremony (October 22) and "Daijō-sai" Great Thanksgiving Festival (November 14-15) to the Three Palace Sanctuaries: Kashikodokoro, Koreiden, and Shinden. Empress Masako also visited all 3 sanctuaries.

Members of the Imperial family, Prime Minister Abe and members of government watched from below. In another ceremony, Emperor Naruhito dispatched messengers to report the dates to Ise Grand Shrine and the Mausoleums of Emperor Jimmu and 4 Emperors up to Emperor Showa.

Photos: Mainichi, Sankei

In Photos: 1st ritual at Imperial Palace since ascension of Emperor Naruhito

Emperor performs 1st ritual within Imperial Palace after accession - Kyodo News+
[...] The emperor read out a statement at the three imperial sanctuaries, reporting "Sokuirei Seiden no gi," a ceremony to proclaim his enthronement, will be held on Oct. 22, and "Daijokyu no gi," a main part of the great thanksgiving ceremony known as Daijosai to make offerings to ancestors and the deities, on Nov. 14-15.

Empress Masako similarly paid a visit to all sanctuaries for the first time since 2002. [...]

Wearing a dark orange robe which only emperors wear during important ceremonies, Emperor Naruhito, 59, visited the sanctuaries [...] The robe called "Korozen no goho" dates back to the ninth century.

His aides carried a sword and a jewel the emperor inherited from his father former Emperor Akihito as proof of his ascension to the throne [...]
Emperor performs first ritual at Imperial Palace - News - NHK WORLD - English
[...] The ceremony was witnessed by Crown Prince Akishino and seven other members of the Imperial family, as well as the country's leaders, including the prime minister, the heads of both chambers of the Diet, the chief justice of the supreme court and Cabinet members.
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Video , and lots of it! I'm so happy. It seems as though both Naruhito and Masako fulfilled their parts beautifully, which I'm sure is an enormous relief for both of them.
:previous: Me too! I'm especially relieved for Empress Masako.
Longer videos from Jiji without commentary and minimal processing. Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visiting Kashikodokoro
Emperor Naruhito dispatching messengers to Ise Grand Shrine and 5 Mausoleums (Emperor Jimmu and recent 4 emperors)
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On May 9th, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako received in audience the departing Ambassador to Japan from China, Cheng Yonghua, and his wife at Akasaka Imperial Palace. They spoke for about 30 minutes in Japanese; Their Majesties thanked the ambassador for his efforts in developing relations between their two countries.

Ambassador Cheng has been China's ambassador to Japan for 9 years, an unusually long time. Typically ambassadorships are 3 years.

Photos: Mainichi, Jiji, NHK

The IHA announced Emperor Naruhito will visit Aichi Prefecture June 1-2 for the 70th National Tree Planting Festival held in Owariasahi city. Empress Masako will accompany him if there is no problem in physical condition.

June 1: arrive at Nagoya by Shinkansen in the morning, visit Shippo Art Village in Ama city, attend reception for the festival at a Nagoya hotel
June 2: tree planting ceremony in the morning, visit Mikawa Aoitori Medical Center in Okazaki city, return to Tokyo by plane from Nagoya's Chubu International Airport

Source: Jiji
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On May 11th, Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and Princess Aiko had dinner with Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko at Fukiage Sento Imperial Palace. They entered the Imperial Palace complex before 7pm and left around 9pm.

Videos: NHK, news.tbs.co.jp

Photos: Sankei, Kyodo
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Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visit Aichi Prefecture June 1-2 for the 70th National Tree Planting Festival. This is Their Majesties' first regional visit since the succession.

Agenda per Sankei
June 1: travel to Aichi Prefecture by Shinkansen, visit traditional crafts "Owari Shippo" facility (Shippo Art Village) in Ama city and interact with local students, attend evening reception at hotel
June 2: 70th National Tree Planting Festival and plant saplings of Japanese cedar at Owariasahi city, visit medical center for children with disabilities in Okazaki city, return to Tokyo by plane

Photos: Asahi (updated), AP Images, Getty Images, Mainichi


This video shows more of the Imperial couple's entourage
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I think Masako will really shine in her role as Empress. An intelligent woman who will be happy to get involved in many dutiesand various eventsand make the role of Empress her own hopefully modernising many things to suit the changing of the times.
I look forward to following her progression. The couple look much happier these days.
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Do you think it's a help for Empress Masako vis a vis her condition, that she now has a much more prominent role and as such is much more in control of what she is going to do and how she is going to approach it?

In other words: It's one thing to "advise" the crown princess to conform, it's an entirely different matter when it's the Empress, who now doubt has the full support of her husband.

There has been suggestions in these threads that Emperor Naruhito, even though being a mild mannered man, may not be that easy to control!
Do you think it's a help for Empress Masako vis a vis her condition, that she now has a much more prominent role and as such is much more in control of what she is going to do and how she is going to approach it?

In other words: It's one thing to "advise" the crown princess to conform, it's an entirely different matter when it's the Empress, who now doubt has the full support of her husband.

I think you may be right, it is probably more difficult to bully the Empress than the Crown Princess. However, more than that, I think Masako and the grey men of the IHA have probably made peace with each other, and each has accepted the other. Any which way, what I am seeing from the pictures is a confident and comfortable Empress, and dare I say it, one that seems to be enjoying her role.
I absolutely agree with you Muriel, confident and comfortable and enjoying her role. Good description.
Also perhaps the little grey men within the palace who may have given her such a hard time regarding tradition and her role as crown princess, perhaps they have retired.
At any rate she should blossom now.
I think the jury is still out as to how Masako will do as Empress long term, and how the IHA will treat her. It may not be quite as easy to bully an Empress as a CP, on the other hand, Michiko certainly suffered under the pressures of being Empress, with marked effects on her health, so clearly the Empress is not insulated from those pressures. While I am very happy to see Masako doing so well in these early days, and able to go on this first trip, which was not always a given, I also suspect that her team of doctors and the IHA have been working for months to prepare her for these first duties, and if there is any compassion or sanity at all in the IHA, they have to know that it would not reflect at all well on them if the Empress collapsed under the pressures put on her in the first few weeks of the Reiwa era. So, we'll see. This is the same IHA that has so horribly mismanaged Masako's life since she married Naruhito, so I'm adopting a wait and see attitude.

I am very happy to see Masako looking well, and am hoping that she will be able to come into her own, but it's early days.
I agree with Ista. The situation is still early and as seen from Michiko's health issues in 1993 and later, becoming empress doesn't make the IHA change drastically or problems disappear. Considerable effort has been made to prepare Masako for all the abdication/succession rituals and I'm glad treatment is a success so far.

There's also the media factor. Right now, there are glowing and fluffy articles about the new emperor and empress while the Akishino family is tabloid fodder. No doubt the honeymoon period will end and if the media continues the practice of attacking the wife, rather than criticizing the born male royal, Masako will need to weather the storm.

Back to Aichi Prefecture, Empress Masako attended all events for Day 1 including the evening reception at the hotel. Locals in Nagoya welcomed them with lanterns and Their Majesties returned the gesture.



ETA: Imperial couple in Aichi for 1st official duty outside Tokyo since ascension - Kyodo News+
[...] The emperor and empress visited a facility in Ama exhibiting the city's traditional craft of cloisonne enamelwork on Saturday prior to a reception for the National Arbor Festival at a hotel in Nagoya.

On Sunday, the two are to attend the festival at Aichi Prefecture Forest Park in Owariasahi and visit a medical facility for disabled children in Okazaki. [...]
Emperor, Empress welcomed with lanterns | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News
[...] About 2,000 people swung hand-held lanterns and gave rousing cheers for a long life at a park in front of the hotel where the couple is staying in Nagoya.

And the Emperor and Empress swung the same type of lantern in front of the window of their unlit room on the 17th floor.


The organizers said the couple are grateful that many people showed up despite humid conditions.

The Emperor and Empress said the lights of the lanterns looked beautiful.
An organizer directing the lantern swinging "Migi" (right), "Hidari" (left) and banzai cheers.
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Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attended the 70th National Tree Planting Festival in Owariasahi, Aichi Prefecture on June 2nd. The couple planted 6 saplings including cypress, Japanese cedar, and Kobushi.

They also visited Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center, a facility for people with disabilities, in Okazaki before returning to Tokyo.

Photos: AP Images, Mainichi, Asahi, Getty Images

Emperor, Empress attends tree-planting ceremony | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News
[...] About 10,000 people from across Japan also took part in this year's event at the Aichi Prefecture Forest Park on Sunday.

The Emperor gave a speech in which he expressed hope that the use of timber and efforts to grow healthy forests will spread further from Aichi to all over Japan and to the future. [...]
Japan Emperor, Empress Attend Tree-Planting Festival | Nippon.com
[...] "Building healthy forests for the next generation is our important duty," Emperor Naruhito said in a speech at the festival in Owariasahi. The Emperor and Empress then planted young trees and sowed seeds.

This marked the Emperor's first speech at the tree-planting festival in 11 years. No such speech had been given since 2008 as part of efforts to reduce the burden of official duties on former Emperor Akihito, the father of Emperor Naruhito. [...]
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It looks as though it was an excellent first trip for the new Emperor and Empress. I especially enjoyed the exchange of lantern greetings, and the planting of the trees. The symbolism of both those was particularly nice.
On June 4th, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako received Gordan Jandroković, Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, and his wife Sonja for an audience at the Imperial Palace.

Photos: Kyodo, Getty Images

HRT: Car Naruhito primio Gordana Jandrokovića

The couples discussed economic cooperation and tourism, in particular a rise by Japanese visitors to Croatia recently. Mr. Jandroković hopes Their Majesties will be able to see the beauty of Croatia personally someday. They also talked about Croatian sports achievements, and especially about the success of the Croatian football team at the World Cup in Russia.
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Oh I can see that too. She looked more comfortable now. At ease with her new role. She looked wonderful.
On June 6th, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery at the Imperial Palace to inspect this year's sericulture. Empress Masako did not perform sericulture work this year because it overlapped with succession ceremonies. Their Majesties inspected conditions of 4 types of silkworms, including Koishimaru.

Photo: Sankei
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On June 6th, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery at the Imperial Palace to inspect this year's sericulture. Empress Masako did not perform sericulture work this year because it overlapped with succession ceremonies. Their Majesties inspected conditions of 4 types of silkworms, including Koishimaru.

Photo: Sankei

I'm hoping that this is one of the duties that Masako will take on in the future, and this visit, hopefully, signals her interest in doing so.
Plans are being made for Emperor Naruhito to meet foreign leaders while they're visiting Japan for the G20 Summit in Osaka. Tentative plans:
July 1: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey
July 2: Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will likely meet French President Emmanuel Macron and First Lady Brigitte Macron on June 27th. Luncheon is a possibility.

Source: news24.jp

On June 14th, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attended a concert by the Vienna Boys' Choir at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The concert commemorates 150 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Austria, featuring about 20 songs including pieces composed by the Emperor Emeritus Akihito and "Sound of Singing Music" by Empress Emerita Michiko.

Photos: AP Images, Sankei
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On June 17th, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attended the 109th Japan Academy Prize ceremony at the Japan Academy Hall in Taito, Tokyo. Before the ceremony, they learned about the winners' research.

Their Majesties hosted a tea party for the winners at the Imperial Palace in the afternoon.

Photos: AP Images, Asahi
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