03 Oct 2019 in Discover Japan
As Japan’s new Emperor is publicly proclaimed, we take a look at the sights along the parade route.
On October 22, 2019, Japan celebrates the ascension to the throne of Emperor Naruhito. An official ceremony will be held at the Imperial Palace followed by a procession in the heart of Tokyo, with the new Emperor and his wife waving to crowds from a car.
During the 3-mile drive to Akasaka Palace, the motorcade will take in some of central Tokyo’s most impressive sights.
To celebrate this day, we investigate the route, the history and the festivities so you can relive the journey yourself. The route is easily walkable: follow it on your next trip to Tokyo, and you’ll be stepping in the Emperor’s wake!
Emperor Naruhito officially succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019 after his father Emperor Akihito became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in over 200 years. Citing his advancing years, the 85-year-old passed the reins to his eldest son in an official handover ceremony held behind closed doors.
At this time, the Heisei era finished and the new Reiwa era began under Emperor Naruhito.
The name Reiwa, meaning “beautiful harmony, was the result of months of secret meetings by a panel of nine experts and was announced live on television to great fanfare earlier in the year.
On October 22, 2019, the new Emperor publicly proclaims his ascension to the throne. This is the occasion to introduce him to the world. Some 2,500 guests from 195 countries will be invited to the Imperial Palace for Sokui-Reiseiden-no-gi, an enthronement ritual during which Naruhito will sit on an immense canopied throne and proclaim himself Emperor.
This is followed by the much-awaited Shukuga-Onretsu-no-gi – a procession to greet the public in an open-top car.
The vehicle chosen for the parade? A convertible Toyota Century luxury sedan, customized with gold Imperial seal on the front bumper.
Some 100,000 people are expected to line the roads on what has been declared a national holiday – a chance to glimpse the new Emperor and his wife Empress Masako.
Sights along the route
The motorcade will pass by numerous important monuments and places of interest along its 3-mile route – offering up a readymade circuit for tourists looking to recreate the royal journey in the future.
If you’re staying at HOSHINOYA Tokyo, you’ll only have to walk a few minutes to reach the starting point of the parade, the Imperial Palace.
Home to the Emperor and his family, the palace is surrounded by extensive grounds, wide moats and impressive stone walls. Most of the complex is off-limits to tourists, but you can sign up on the official website for twice-daily guided tours in English.
The East Gardens are also open to the public most days, a chance to see the ruins of the original 17th-century Edo Castle and stroll around the pleasant Japanese gardens.
From the Imperial Palace, the procession will head in the direction of Tokyo Station before skirting around Hibiya Park, former feudal grounds that became Tokyo’s first Western-style park in the early 20th century. Complete with flower gardens, ponds and restaurants, the park is home to a ginkgo tree estimated to be as old as 500 years. It also hosts the popular Oktoberfest and Christmas market.
Next up, the Emperor’s car will drive by the National Diet Building, Japan’s centre of political activity. The imposing pillared concrete-and-granite building was completed in 1936. You can sign up on the official website for a guided tour of the House of Representatives in English.
Visits of the House of Councillors are only available in Japanese, and both tours take in the public galley, Imperial waiting rooms, gardens, and the grandiose Central Hall.
Finally, the point of arrival of the parade is Akasaka Palace or Geihinkan, the state guest house. Formerly an Imperial residence, it was transformed into a place to receive visitors of the Emperor in 1974. The main building is modelled on European-style palaces and houses multiple rooms bedecked with hanging chandeliers, vast mirrors and walls embossed with gold motifs.
Reserve ahead on the official website and, even if you’re only visiting as a tourist, you’ll still get an intriguing insight into what the Emperor’s guests will experience on that historical day of October 22.