TOKYO – Japan will celebrate the ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne of Emperor Naruhito in the presence of dignitaries from across the world at a historic event on Tuesday.
Naruhito will participate in a series of solemn activities to assume the leadership of the world’s oldest reigning monarchy, months after he succeeded his father Akihito on May 1.
Around 2,000 guests, including 70 heads of states and governments, are set to attend the event.
This is part of a series of celebrations that include Shintoist rituals behind closed doors and other minor proceedings.
The “Sokuirei Seiden no gi” celebration – the equivalent of the coronation in western monarchies – will take place in the majestic premises of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, opened for visitors on rare occasions like these.
The emperor will ascend the throne figuratively as well as literally.
A special royal seat called “Takamikura” has been built for the occasion with a 6.5-meter (21 feet) tall canopy.
He will proclaim his ascension before receiving felicitations and the traditional greeting of “banzai” (long live the emperor).
Naruhito will don a ceremonial costume decorated with traditional ornaments.
He will be accompanied by his wife, Masako, who will wear a 12-layer kimono and climb on to another lower throne next to the emperor.
The foreign guests will watch the ceremony that will to last for around half an hour on screens installed outside the “Matsu no ma” room. The small-sized room can only host members of the royal family and representatives of the Japanese nobility.
European royals such as King Philip VI of Spain and British Crown Prince Charles will attend the ceremony, apart from representatives from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
The deployment of the Imperial Guard in the Palace patio would be canceled in case of predicted rains, in-charge of the ceremony Akiteru Mikami told reporters on Monday.
A gala dinner has been organized in the biggest hall of the Imperial Palace – the “Homeiden” – and a welcome cocktail will allow the guests to interact with the new emperor and the empress in the backdrop of traditional music and dance performances.
The menu includes modern western-style dishes made with Japanese ingredients, including seafood, asparagus wrapped in beef, rice, soup, fruits, and desserts, said the Vice Grand Master of Ceremonies Jiro Okuyama.
The number of guests has been reduced to around half of the nearly 4,000 at the coronation of Akihito in 1990, Mikami said.
The original program for Tuesday also included a royal parade in which Naruhito and Masko were to ride a convertible through the streets of Tokyo.
But the government postponed the event out of respect for the victims of the typhoon Hagibis, which caused massive damage in the country earlier this month.
The coronation of Naruhito, the 126th Emperor of Japan, would be the fourth to be celebrated in the country since the beginning of the 20th century, and the second to have a sizable presence of international guests, after Akihito’s ascension in 1990.