Empress Masako Current Events Part 1: May 2019 -


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Welcome to Part 1 of the thread for the Current Events of Empress Masako!

The old thread can be found here:

** Crown Princess Masako Current Events Part 1: July 2005 - April 2019 **



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Empress Masako turns 56 on December 9

Written responses for 56th birthday - IHA (Google translation)
- Gratitude for Emperor Naruhito, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko.
- Gratitude for the public for their warm welcome.
- Happiness she was able to participate in succession events and they concluded as scheduled.
- Sadness, condolences and concerns about victims and damage from Typhoon No. 19, natural disasters in Japan and globally, recent death of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura in Afghanistan, many environmental problems such as plastic waste, problems such as poverty and child abuse in Japan, and ongoing conflicts and civil wars in the world.
- Mentions joyful events such as 2019 Rugby World Cup, Akira Yoshino winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- Next year's Olympics and Paralympics will be another opportunity for international exchange.
- Hopes Princess Aiko will cherish her last year of high school to the fullest, wishing her new experiences and learning while valuing gratitude and compassion.

The birthday schedule includes the usual congratulatory events, 1:30pm visit to Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko, and 7pm family dinner at Akasaka Imperial residence with Princess Aiko, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko, Crown Prince Akishino family, and Kuroda couple.

Press release from Her Majesty's medical team - IHA (Google translation)
- Masako's activities have expanded and her condition is steadily improving: 4 regional visits, focus on succession ceremonies, and events such as the annual Japanese Red Cross meeting, US state visit, French official visit, etc.
- She remains under medical treatment. Fatigue happens after big/long/consecutive events. Excessive expectations are counterproductive.
- Expansion of private activities is important for recovery.

Photos and video taken on December 3: Asahi gallery

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Why does she have to visit the emperor and empress emeriti instead of having them visiting the current empress on her birthday? Is that because they are older and therefore require the current empress to still esteem them higher?

How lovely that her sister-in-law and brother-in-law continue to be included in the family dinner; I am always pleased to see that although Sayako is no longer a member of the imperial family, she still is part of these kinds of family events (as will apply to Aiko as well when she marries - unless things change).
 
:previous: Yes, most likely it's the "respect the elders" custom. Crown Prince Akishino, Crown Princess Kiko, Prince Hisahito, Princess Mako, and Princess Aiko all visited Fukiage Sento Imperial Palace on their birthdays to greet Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko. I assume the greetings will continue when the retired Imperial couple move to Takanawa residence and then finally to Sento Imperial Palace (currently named Akasaka Imperial residence, formerly Togu Palace aka Crown Prince's Residence).

On December 9th, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako entered the Imperial Palace around 11am for the empress' birthday celebrations. Some events were changed and others will be held at Akasaka Imperial residence to reduce the burden on the empress.

Empress Masako's birthday schedule

11:10, 11:20, 11:40, 11:50am : greetings from IHA staff, IHA police, members of government, Imperial family, relatives at Imperial Palace
12-12:50pm : lunch
1:30pm : greet Emperor Emeritus Akihito & Empress Emerita Michiko at Fukiage Sento Imperial Palace
2:20, 2:30pm: greetings from IHA staff, former IHA staff, and former IHA police
6pm : greetings from IHA staff (Chamberlains?) at Akasaka Imperial residence
6:30pm : greetings from minors (Aiko & Hisahito)
7pm: dinner with Aiko, retired Imperial couple, Akishino family, Kuroda couple

Photos: AP Images, Getty Images, Asahi

https://www.sankei.com/images/news/191210/lif1912100007-p1.jpg
https://www.instagram.com/p/B52ZQqkFjFf/

Japan Empress Masako turns 56, vows to move forward with support of people - Kyodo News
[...]

As the empress is still recovering from a stress-induced illness, her doctors warn that she remains vulnerable to fatigue -- especially after a large ceremony or successive duties -- and sought public support and understanding for her situation.

The way the couple have been feted since the emperor's enthronement "will significantly support me as I move forward," the empress said in a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency. "I will make efforts together with the emperor so that I can devote myself to the happiness of the people."

[...]

Completing a series of ceremonies and rites linked to the enthronement, the empress said she is feeling a sense of relief, while expressing gratitude for the "unexpectedly warm celebration" by the public.

The empress also referred to the victims of powerful typhoons and other natural disasters this year.

"I wish from the bottom of my heart that reconstruction will proceed smoothly and people affected will become able to live at ease as early as possible."

[...]

Fulfilling the role of empress at various events has added to her confidence, the doctors said. But they also asked for public understanding, saying that excessive expectations could adversely affect her recovery.
Empress Masako turns 56 | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News
[...]

She expressed gratitude for what she described as the unexpectedly warm congratulations extended by so many people since the enthronement.

[...]

The Empress said she will keep as priceless memories the smiles of the many people she met in various parts of the country. She said these memories will greatly support her in the future.

She said she has a renewed wish that along with the Emperor, she will always pray for the happiness of the people and try to stand by them.
Empress Masako, Turning 56, Recalls Pivotal Year with Deep Emotion | Nippon.com
[...]

"As I recall this year, which saw a historical moment, I'm filled with deep emotion," the Empress said in a statement released through the Imperial Household Agency.

[...]

Empress Masako also deeply thanked former Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko for "giving consideration and showing the way" to realizing a smooth Imperial succession, as well as for their longtime service while staying close to the people. [...]
 
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Masako looks lovely. It's so nice to see her being able to fulfill so many of her responsibilities, and I hope that her condition will continue to improve. I hope that the public will be understanding of the changes in schedule and appearances that may be necessary over time.
 
On May 11th, Empress Masako attended the Beginning of Sericulture "Goyosan Hajime no Gi" ceremony at the Imperial Palace. She entered Hanzomon gate before 10am. The tradition of sericulture has been inherited by empresses since the Meiji era. The work will last about 2 months.

Empress Shoken started sericulture to encourage the sericulture industry and since the industry has declined significantly, the work at the Imperial Palace is important for Japanese culture.

Photo: Asahi, Sankei

This year is Empress Masako's first sericulture. IHA staff managed sericulture last year due to overlap with succession events although Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery in June to inspect the progress [Sankei] and weekly magazine news-postseven reported Masako intended to visit again in July but that visit was cancelled. Crown Princess Masako visited the cocoonery in May 2018 after informing Empress Michiko she wished to inherit the tradition.

NHK reports the following coronavirus measures
- Number of staff working with the empress was reduced from 5 to 1
- Only 1 variety (Koishimaru silkworms) will be bred instead of the usual 4 (Koishimaru, Hakken, Ouken, Tensan)
- Masako's involvement will be adjusted depending on the infection situation

"Goyosan Hajime no Gi" ceremony : empress brushes silkworm larvae into basket with feather duster and feeds them chopped mulberry leaves.

ETA: Empress Masako feeds silkworms in imperial sericulture tradition - Kyodo News
 
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On May 22nd, Empress Masako visited the Imperial Palace's Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery after 4pm for sericulture work. She gave mulberry leaves to the 2cm silkworms and heard detailed explanations from staff.

AP Images
 
On May 11th, Empress Masako attended the Beginning of Sericulture "Goyosan Hajime no Gi" ceremony at the Imperial Palace. She entered Hanzomon gate before 10am. The tradition of sericulture has been inherited by empresses since the Meiji era. The work will last about 2 months.

Empress Shoken started sericulture to encourage the sericulture industry and since the industry has declined significantly, the work at the Imperial Palace is important for Japanese culture.

[...]

NHK reports the following coronavirus measures
- Number of staff working with the empress was reduced from 5 to 1
- Only 1 variety (Koishimaru silkworms) will be bred instead of the usual 4 (Koishimaru, Hakken, Ouken, Tensan)
- Masako's involvement will be adjusted depending on the infection situation

"Goyosan Hajime no Gi" ceremony : empress brushes silkworm larvae into basket with feather duster and feeds them chopped mulberry leaves.

On May 22nd, Empress Masako visited the Imperial Palace's Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery after 4pm for sericulture work. She gave mulberry leaves to the 2cm silkworms and heard detailed explanations from staff.

AP Images

It seems this tradition is understood as an essential activity by the IHA as they are being proactive in preserving the empress's personal involvement. The one thing I don't understand is why breeding one variety of silkworm involves a lower risk of Covid-19 infection than breeding four varieties ...
 
My assumption would be because different people are in charge of the different varieties of silk worms and that they are continuing to raise them without the Empress's involvement. By restricting Masako's involvement to only one of the varieties, she and they have less potential exposure.
 
I think the 1 variety limit applies this year's production, not just Masako's participation.

2013 documentary on Imperial sericulture shows sericulture staff collecting mulberry leaves, creating the mabushi cocooning frames, washing equipment, and sorting the cocoons. Some indoor activities could be moved outside/distancing or workers in staggered shifts but it's probably easier and safer to breed 1 variety and reduce the risk for everyone. Less mulberry leaves, frames, and help will be needed.
 
I love to see videos from them, this is one of my favorites Royal Houses. A huge tradition in terms of years, super correct, and also the fact that they tend to be very discrete makes them a great Royal House in my opinion
 
:previous: Fortunately the IHA has now provided video and photos of Empress Masako performing sericulture tasks for the first time. :flowers:

On May 29th, Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery to feed mulberry leaves to silkworms again. The silkworms are between 8-10cm long and will be ready to spin cocoons next month. Masako entered the Imperial Palace around 4:30pm.

Photos: Kyodo
AP Images only has car photos right now

https://www.sankei.com/images/news/200529/lif2005290085-p1.jpg
https://cdn.mainichi.jp/vol1/2020/05/29/20200529k0000m040209000p/9.jpg

Empress feeds silkworms in Imperial tradition | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News
 
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so nice media sources :), you make my day happy. I have seen few of them and enjoying a lot. Thank you a lot
 
The IHA released a longer video of Empress Masako feeding the silkworms on May 29. The video doesn't have audio so TV Tokyo added commentary from their Imperial reporters.

Empress Masako was scheduled to harvest cocoons on June 8 but her condition was not well enough. IHA staff completed the task instead.
 
On July 10th, Empress Masako visited the Imperial Palace to attend "Goyosan Osame no Gi" (ceremony to mark the end of sericulture) at Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery.

The empress bowed and offered the raw silk at the ritual. The IHA provided photos of this year's silk production: about 30kg from Koishimaru silkworms.

Since May, Empress Masako has attended 6 sericulture events including 1 with Emperor Naruhito. According to aides, she is deeply moved after completing her first sericulture and deeply grateful to people involved in the work. [NHK]

Photos: Asahi, Sankei

Empress Masako completes this year's silk farming - Kyodo News
[...] The empress bowed at the Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery standing on the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo, where she had fed shredded mulberry leaves to silkworms and collected some 30 kilograms of cocoons in the end, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

She raised only the Koishimaru, a breed of silkworm indigenous to Japan, as the novel coronavirus outbreak has cut the number of assistants for the process to one instead of the usual five.

The previous empress, former Empress Michiko, had raised three breeds of silkworms and collected some 160 kg of cocoons in 2017. Silk taken from the Koishimaru has been used in restoring ancient Shosoin Treasures kept in Nara Prefecture. [...]

Empress Masako Completes Her 1st Sericulture at Palace | Nippon.com
Japanese Empress Masako on Friday offered to gods raw silk made from cocoons of silkworms she raised to complete the Imperial tradition of sericulture for this year, marking her first such experience.

[...]

The raw silk offered at the ritual was spun from cocoons of Koishimaru silkworms, a pure Japanese variety, according to the Imperial Household Agency. She appeared to be full of emotion after completing her first sericulture since she became Empress in May 2019. [...]
 
On November 30th, the Imperial Household Agency announced Empress Masako will not hold birthday celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic. An emperor or empress' birthday festivities usually involve greetings from government officials, family, IHA staff, IHA police, etc.

Source: Sankei
 
Empress Masako celebrates her 57th birthday on December 9

Photos and videos were taken on December 3 at Akasaka Imperial residence. Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako discuss sericulture books, silk and cocoons. Masako completed her first sericulture activity this year, collecting about 30 kg of Koishimaru cocoons. The usual birthday celebrations have been cancelled to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Imperial Household Agency birthday press release and statement from her medical team.

Photos: Mainichi, Asahi, Bunshun

Empress Masako turns 57, wishes to overcome pandemic with people - Kyodo News
[...] The empress, who has long been battling a stress-induced illness, said this year has reminded her of the importance and value of human life amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, adding it has been painful to see the level of devastation caused around the world.

"I hope we can cooperate to overcome these hardships" through understanding, caring and lending a helping hand to one another, she said in a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency.

She also expressed her gratitude to health care workers, who have "devoted themselves day and night to save the lives of many patients and to prevent the spread of infections."

[...]

She said she "regrets" not being able to communicate with the Japanese people in person as many events she was scheduled to attend were postponed. However, she revealed that she has been performing her duties online.

[...]

"I am thankful to be given the opportunity to interact with the Japanese people online, and I hope to value such methods in the future as well," she said.

[...]

Her doctors said in a separate statement that she has shown signs of improvement but still requires treatment. They also asked for public understanding, saying that excessive expectations could adversely affect her recovery.

The empress said she has tried to fulfill her duties as much as possible while taking into consideration her health. "I would like to make further efforts to recover in order to support the emperor and fulfill my role as empress," she added.

The couple has a daughter, Princess Aiko, 19, who enrolled in Gakushuin University in Tokyo this year. After turning 20, the princess is expected to perform official duties as an adult member of the imperial family.

"Thinking that she will come of age next year, it brings back memories of when she was young," she said. "I would like her to continue learning from others and spend her final year as a teen with a rich spirit."
 
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She said she "regrets" not being able to communicate with the Japanese people in person as many events she was scheduled to attend were postponed. However, she revealed that she has been performing her duties online.

[...]

"I am thankful to be given the opportunity to interact with the Japanese people online, and I hope to value such methods in the future as well," she said.

[...]

Her doctors said in a separate statement that she has shown signs of improvement but still requires treatment. They also asked for public understanding, saying that excessive expectations could adversely affect her recovery.

I wonder if the reduction of in-person events and the shift to online meetings has given her more flexibility in her recovery process.

While Covid-19 and stress-induced illness are not comparable, I imagine that given her experiences, she has special sympathy for people who have been unable to continue working and appreciation for healthcare workers.
 
My guess would be the shift to online meetings is beneficial. No travel and less rush to stay on schedule.

The medical team's statement noted Masako attended 5 court rituals and both New Year's Lectures and Poetry Reading this year. (I'd include full participation at 2020 New Year receptions as well)

Birthday events scrapped due to virus as Empress Masako turns 57 : The Asahi Shimbun
... Last year, Masako had tea with ambassadors to Japan and other dignitaries on 12 occasions, according to the agency. But she has done so only three times this year because of the health crisis.

She has, however, had meetings with experts and others 29 times this year, up from 2019, when she participated in 13 meetings.

Sixteen of the meetings this year concerned infectious diseases.

A team of doctors treating Masako’s adjustment disorder released an opinion the same day on the state of her health.

Masako’s activities have been severely limited by the pandemic, making it harder for her to get herself in better physical shape, they said.

[...]

They also said it is important for her to continue to expand the range of her private activities.
 
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On May 6th, Empress Masako entered the Imperial Palace before 10am to attend Goyosan Hajime no Gi (Ceremony to mark the start of Imperial sericulture) at Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery. As with last year, only one type of silkworm (Japanese "Koishimaru") will be bred due to the pandemic with 1 staff member assisting.

Princess Aiko entered the Imperial Palace after 10am. After the sericulture ceremony, Empress Masako and Princess Aiko visited the stables to say goodbye to Toyoyoshi, an elderly horse who will be transferred to Goryo Bokujo (Imperial Stock Farm) in Tochigi Prefecture. Toyoyoshi was born in 1997 and is the child of Ahajiju, a horse gifted to then-Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako from the Sultan of Oman in 1994. Aiko has been familiar with Toyoyoshi since childhood.

Photos: AP Images, Asahi
Sources: Jiji, Mainichi

ETA:
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I wonder why Empress Masako and Princess Aiko had to arrive separately. Couldn't Aiko wait in the car during the sericulture ceremony and then go together to the stables?

ETA:
 
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I loved the video of Masako meeting Toyoyoshi as a colt. Hopefully he'll be able to enjoy a nice retirement at Goryo Bokujo. It also would have been nice to see footage of Aiko and Masako together with Toyoyoshi.
 
I got the horses' names wrong.

Aiko bids beloved horse farewell in rare visit to Imperial Palace : The Asahi Shimbun
[...]

She goes out less frequently these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but made the visit at her own wish to meet Toyoyoshi-go, a stallion kept by a division at the Imperial Household Agency in charge of taking care of riding horses and carriage horses.

“She can’t travel far from home amid the pandemic and has no idea when she can meet Toyoyoshi-go again,” said a close aide of the princess. “She may have wanted to directly express her gratitude to the horse (before he leaves the Imperial Palace stables).”

Toyoyoshi-go (literally, rich joy) was born in 1997 at the Imperial Stock Farm in Tochigi Prefecture. Naruhito and Masako named the stallion after his mother, Ahazeej-go, which means “song of joy” in Arabic. The imperial couple received her from the King of Oman as a gift during their visit to the Middle East in 1994 as crown prince and crown princess.

Aiko has ridden Toyoyoshi-go many times since she was little. The stallion became her riding horse as he is gentle and smaller than other horses, making him easier for women and children to ride, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

Toyoyoshi-go has served mainly as a riding horse since being moved into the Imperial Palace stables in 2000. A jockey rode him at a traditional equestrian event in 2015 to celebrate Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko both turning 80.

[...]
 
On May 21st, Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery at the Imperial Palace to give mulberry leaves to silkworms which have grown to ~3cm.

AP Images

FNN video shows 2020 silkworm feeding and 2021 arrival.
 
On May 25th before 5pm, Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery at the Imperial Palace. She spent an hour giving mulberry leaves to 30,000 "Koishimaru" silkworms with a staff member. The silkworms have grown to 5-6cm.

Photos: Sankei, Sankei Imperial Weekly 694, Jiji, Kyodo, fnn.jp
 
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On June 2nd, Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery at the Imperial Palace for sericulture work. She moved silkworms to cocooning frames called "mabushi," harvested the first cocoons, and removed fluff from cocoons.

Photos: Sankei, Kyodo
 
On June 7th, Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery at the Imperial Palace for sericulture work. She harvested cocoons, removed fluff, and cut ends of cocoons to help silk moths emerge.

Photo: Sankei
 
On July 8th, Empress Masako visited Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery to attend "Goyosan Osame no Gi," a ceremony marking the end of this year's sericulture.

Photos: Sankei, Kyodo, Jiji

Videos of sericulture 2021
 
Empress Masako turns 58 on December 9. Photos/video were taken on December 5 at the Imperial residence. Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako appreciate traditional crafts from prefectures they visited remotely:

Miyagi: Kokeshi dolls
Wakayama: Temari (embroidered handballs)
Shimane: Uchide no kozuchi (Lucky mallet)
Miyazaki: Kagura masks

Birthday statement and schedule: https://www.kunaicho.go.jp/page/kaiken/show/49

Medical statement: https://www.kunaicho.go.jp/kunaicho/koho/kohyo/d-kenkai-r031209.html

Photos: Asahi, Asahi2, Mainichi, AFPBB

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visiting Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko at Takanawa Imperial residence in the afternoon:

Japan's Empress Masako turns 58, expresses high hopes for daughter - Kyodo News
Japan's Empress Masako on the occasion of her 58th birthday Thursday expressed hopes that her daughter Princess Aiko, who recently came of age, would "grow step by step" to successfully fulfill her duties as an adult member of the imperial family.

[...]

The empress, who has long been battling a stress-induced illness, also offered her sympathies to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, adding it has been heartbreaking to see the economic and social hardships it has caused around the world.

"My heart aches to hear that many people have been faced with hardships such as reduced income, or having to abandon higher education," she said.

With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, the empress also offered condolences to victims of the disaster, saying, "It pains me to know that there are still people who have not been able to rebuild their lives or are still suffering from mental trauma."

[...]

Her doctors said in a separate statement that while she has shown signs of improvement, her condition fluctuates. They said she needs time to adjust to the new environment in the Imperial Palace, having only recently moved there from the Akasaka Imperial Residence in September.

The empress expressed gratitude to her husband, Emperor Naruhito, for his constant concern for her health, adding that she is doing her best to recover so that she "can support the emperor by his side and fulfill my own duties."

Events to celebrate her birthday will be held by reducing the number of attendees, among other measures against COVID-19.

In addition to receiving well wishes from Crown Prince Fumihito, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and others, the empress, along with the emperor, will also visit former Emperor Akihito and former Empress Michiko at the Takanawa Imperial Residence in Tokyo.
Empress Masako Turns 58, Emotional over Princess' Coming of Age | Nippon.com
[...] "I'm sincerely grateful for the warm support that has been provided to her," Empress Masako said, expressing her gratitude to the people of Japan.

"I feel that the 20 years have been both long and fleeting," she said. "It is unbelievable to think that that little child, Aiko, has already reached adulthood." [...]
 
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On May 11th, Empress Masako attended the Beginning of Sericulture ceremony "Goyosan Hajime no Gi" at Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery within the Imperial Palace.

2020-2021 sericulture was limited to 1 silkworm variety "Koishimaru" and 1 staff due to the pandemic. This year's sericulture plans for 4 varieties and allow 2 staff to help the empress.

Source: Sankei Imperial Weekly 743
 
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