Japanese Imperial Protocol. Meeting, etc.

If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Jan 6, 2011
United States
It has been said that the Japanese Imperial court had complex protocol to rival that of the European courts or even former French monarchy, and that court ceremony took up a lot of time. What today stands of protocol? Are there any English language resources or books on both ancient and current Japanese Imperial protocol? The ones I have found are sparse in detail. Does protocol differ greatly from ancient times?

Some general questions...

What happens when people of various rank meet the Emperor or member of Imperial Family?

How does the Emperor & Empress as well as Imperial Family behave at social events such as balls. Do they even attend or host them?

Is it still considered impolite to look into the face of the Emperor directly?

Are there any grand processions as in Europe?

How do members of the Imperial Household offices behave toward the Emperor?

What are the various ceremonies that were supposed to have taken up so much time of the earlier Imperial Court, and have any carried over to today?
Have you googled your questions already?:)
LDP exec: Don't let same-sex partners attend imperial parties:The Asahi Shimbun

An executive of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said partners of state guests in same-sex relationships should be denied entry to banquets hosted by the emperor and empress at the Imperial Palace.


Takeshita mentioned the banquet in 2013 hosted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace. Then-French President Francois Hollande and his female partner attended the party.

“The Imperial Household Agency was stumped about what to do about Hollande’s partner, who was not his wife and would be seated along with Japan’s imperial couple,” Takeshita said.
Takeshita is backtracking sort of…

LDP at odds on same-sex partners of state guests attending banquets - The Mainichi

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda stopped short of outright criticizing the remark by LDP General Council Chairman Wataru Takeshita, she said that as "someone who values diversity, I want Japan to be somewhere where any sort of person can live freely."

[…] he expressed regret over the remark on Friday afternoon.

"I shouldn't have said that," he told reporters after a party event in Shimane Prefecture, western Japan, saying members of his family have been telling him off for the comment.

But he still tried to justify his remark.

"There are people close to me who have same-sex partners themselves, but I just wondered, when we're thinking of the imperial family, how (that fits with) the mentality of the Japanese people," Takeshita said.


The secretary general of the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito also appeared to disagree with Takeshita on Friday.

"We're inviting them as state guests, so it's something that should be decided based on the thinking of their countries," Yoshihisa Inoue said at a press conference.

A blast from the past as historic route for new envoys is revived: The Asahi Shimbun
The completion of a major face-lift of the square in front of JR Tokyo Station heralds the return of pomp and pageantry to this historic area of the capital.

The Gyoko-dori avenue leading away from the famed red-brick station building on the Marunouchi side has traditionally served as the route for incoming foreign ambassadors making their way to the Imperial Palace to present their credentials to the emperor.


A dress rehearsal was held Dec. 1 along the broad avenue lined with yellow-hued gingko trees.

The Imperial Household Agency arranges either cars or coaches and horses for the dignitaries for the occasion, but most opt for the latter.
Last edited:
Trump never bowed to Japan Emperor, no protocol blunder either

Japan Monarchy's Protocol at Glance:

-- Japanese never touch the royal family members. In case of medical contingency too, doctors wear gloves and make sure they follow the norms set by the Imperial Agency.

-- The Imperial Family do not attend funerals of commoners, even if they are related. The Emperor and Empress never attend the funeral of lower-ranked Imperial Family members. Their chief chamberlain usually represents them.

-- The Empress can't step on the Emperor's shadow and so the other female members of the Imperial Family in case of their husbands.

-- Male members always walk first with the female members walking behind them. Often they get off their cars first and stand aside and wait for their husbands to get off and they usually bow to them the moment their husbands alight from their cars.

-- Female members cannot speak longer than their husbands during press conferences. Once Princess Masako (wife of Crown Prince Naruhito) was criticised during the engagement press conference for talking more than Naruhito, which was 7 minutes longer.

-- Princess Masako, being a former diplomat was once chided for speaking to US President Bill Clinton in English and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Russian when she was seated between them.

-- The Emperor and Empress do not attend wedding ceremonies. Even when their own heir-apparent Prince Naruhito married Masako, the couple had the rites first and then visited the Emperor and Empress for the blessing.

-- Imperial Household Agency (IHA) is so powerful that it keeps an eye on every moment of the royal family members. Even Crown Prince Naruhito was not spared when he spoke without "permission" on his wife Masako's difficulties in adjusting to IHA protocol in 2004.

-- Whenever Imperial Family members give interviews on their birthdays or before foreign trips, all questions and answers are "screened" by the IHA and the media should also follow a strict code of conduct.

-- Imperial Family members are not allowed to openly share their preferences. When Crown Prince Naruhito told media that his daughter Princess Aiko loves sumo, he could not reveal more about her favorite sumo wrestlers.

Actually, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko did attend their daughter Princess Sayako's wedding ceremony and reception. They are expected to attend granddaughter Princess Mako's wedding next year.

On CP Masako being chided for not using a translator, perhaps that's been relaxed now. I've seen Empress Michiko conversing with English-speaking guests without a translator.

Japan’s Emperor and Imperial Family | Nippon.com

Members of the imperial family do not have a shared family name and they use only given names. Emperor Shōwa was known in his lifetime as Hirohito, while the present imperial couple are simply Akihito and Michiko. When the men who are not in the direct line of succession marry, they are given new titles to indicate that they are establishing new houses. For example, Emperor Akihito’s second son Fumihito has the title Prince Akishino.

Imperial family members may not choose their jobs freely. They may only be employed at nonprofit organizations working for the public good, and the emperor’s permission is required. They cannot vote or run for office, and must prioritize their official duties. Imperial assets are owned by the state. Emperor Akihito lives in the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, and Crown Prince Naruhito lives with his family at Akasaka’s Tōgū Palace, also in the capital. Empress Michiko was the first commoner to enter the imperial family, marrying Akihito when he was still crown prince. She also became the first member to install a kitchen in her home and prepare meals for her husband and children.

Err, I doubt Emperor Showa was known as Hirohito in Japan. Perhaps only to a select few. He was known to most Japanese as Prince Michi -> The Crown Prince -> The Regent -> The Emperor or His Majesty -> Emperor Showa
When Prince Mikasa died in 2016, a Japanese article reported his wife Princess Yuriko called out "Miya-sama" rather than his first name Takahito or even Takahito-sama. In CP Masako's recent birthday press release, she refers to Princess Mako as "Mako-sama" so family members use the honorific -sama with each other (at least in press releases, maybe Mako is "Mako-chan or Mako-san" in private), except perhaps the Emperor and Empress.
Last edited:
Thanks, Prisma. :flowers:

That's the sort of things I find so interesting.

And considering the more outward role of the Imperial Family now, I think it would be prudent to keep these rules as a general guideline, rather than being so rigid.
And as you point out, they are not that strictly adhered to.
Same-sex partners invited for first time to ministry event: The Asahi Shimbun
In response to a gaffe by a ruling Liberal Democratic Party executive, the Foreign Ministry invited same-sex partners of foreign dignitaries based in Japan for the first time to a reception to celebrate Emperor Akihito’s 84th birthday.

The reception on Dec. 22 was hosted by Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his wife at the Foreign Ministry's Iikura House in the Azabudai area of Tokyo's Minato Ward.


It marked the first time the ministry has included several same-sex partners of foreign dignitaries to the annual event where diplomats, Japanese government officials and other experts are in attendance. [...]

The partners were invited following a controversial remark by Wataru Takeshita, chairman of the LDP's general council, who said on Nov. 23 he disagreed with the idea of letting partners of state guests in same-sex relationships attend banquets hosted by the emperor and empress at the Imperial Palace.

Responding to the fierce backlash against Takeshita's gaffe, Kono declared at the Lower House Budget Committee on Nov. 28 that companions of ambassadors and others would be treated as a “spouse” or “partner” at ministry events regardless of their marital status: legal marriage, or in a de facto marriage, or if they are of the same or different genders.

Hopefully the next step will be inviting same-sex partners to Imperial Palace banquets.
Top Bottom