Saturday, February 11, 2012

Japanese Emperor's Birthday

The Emperor’s Birthday is a national holiday in Japan. The Holiday date moves relative to who the emperor is at the time. The modern Emperor Akihito’s birthday is December 23rd. Being in Tokyo for the holidays allowed us the ability to go through the gates of the Imperial palace and see the Emperor and his family in person.

In Japan, the emperor is given great respect and never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor" which may be shortened to “His Imperial Majesty." He is very loved and respected.

The Japanese imperial system  -with its estimated 1,800-year history- almost got eliminated after World War II. World War II was fought in the name of then Emperor Hirohito. U.S. occupying forces decided to keep Emperor Hirohito on the Chrysanthemum throne as a symbol of state at the end of the war. Emperor Akihito acceded to the throne in 1989 following the death of his father Emperor Hirohito.

We joined the joyous crowd going through the Nakamon gate with everyone flying little paper Rising Sun flags. The gates slowly creaked open as we filed past the palace guards who formally allowed us to pass. The palace is a beautiful stone and wooden building that employs traditional Japanese architecture that rose above us to the left. We followed the stone path that led to the Kyuden Totei Plaza in front of the main reception hall where the Emperor and his family would appear on the balcony. Rustling paper flags flew everywhere.

During the height of the 1980s Japanese property bubble, The Imperial Palace grounds were valued by some as more than the value of all the real estate in California. 

The happy crowd was in respectful anticipation as the rarely seen Emperor and his family came to the front of the porch. Speaking slowly and deliberately the Emperor gave a short address of which I didn’t understand a word. It didn’t matter; just seeing Akihito speak to his people was lucky and excitement enough. It happens only once a year.

1 comment: