TOKYO – Japan’s Emperor Naruhito proclaimed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne on Tuesday in a ceremony held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo before representatives of countries around the world, offering an unusual glimpse into the rites of Japan’s ancient royal lineage.
On a rainy national holiday, the new Japanese emperor took part in a ceremony lasting about 30 minutes, completing the main intricacies of his enthronement.
A day after his father Akihito abdicated in April, Naruhito was proclaimed emperor on May 1 in an event restricted to a small number of people, but public celebrations were carried out on Tuesday.
The central moment of the ceremony took place when the chamberlains drew the curtains of the Takamikura throne, revealing a motionless Naruhito dressed in the ceremonial dark orange robe worn exclusively by Japanese emperors on special occasions, while the assistants performed deep bows.
This octagonal throne, used since the eighth century in enthronement ceremonies and decorated with a 6.5-meter-high canopy bearing mythological animal motifs, was situated in the center of the Matsu-no-Ma (Pine Chamber) state room, where only members of the imperial family could watch the ceremony from close quarters.
On another throne lower than that of the emperor appeared Empress Masako, dressed in a 12-layer kimono with pale and reddish tones that evoked the sun at its peak, and a sporting an elaborate hairstyle.
The approximately 2,000 guests, among them Japanese political representatives and international dignitaries, witnessed the ceremony from other rooms of the palace, through large windows across the courtyard or on screens, owing to the small size of the Pine Chamber.
The ceremony took place in silence, broken only by the sounds of traditional instruments that marked the time, and by the speech of the emperor.
“I now… proclaim my enthronement to those at home and abroad,” Naruhito said, according to local media. “I pledge hereby that I shall act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan.”
He also vowed to wish for “the happiness of the people and the peace of the world” and pledged to act with responsibility and wisdom for the welfare of the Japanese people and the prosperity of humanity.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then led the shout of the traditional “banzai” (long live), followed by others in the room, as cannon fire rang out.
The sun shone over Tokyo during the ceremony, after heavy rains had greeted the guests arriving at the palace, and also while the emperor and empress went to offer prayers before the main Shinto deity Amaterasu.
Later in the evening, a cocktail and a gala banquet was scheduled to be held at the palace, where guests would have the opportunity to interact with the emperor.