DUBAI: The world’s oldest monarchy, Japan witnessed earlier this year the historic abdication of Emperor Akihito.
He became the nation’s first ruler in nearly 200 years to step down from his imperial seat, known as the Takamikura (Chrysanthemum Throne). Next in line to rule the Japanese people and the canopied throne is his son Naruhito, 59.
On Oct. 22, a sophisticated enthronement ceremony will take place. Royals, dignitaries and heads of state from 195 countries are expected to attend this major event.
By the early 20th century, the enthronement ceremony was usually held in the historically courtly city of Kyoto, the former capital of Japan.
This meticulous and somewhat private affair is meant to introduce the new emperor to the world. It is deeply embedded in traditional rituals that go back many years.
On the day of the ceremony, which will take place in the prestigious main hall of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace and last about 30 minutes, the traditionally dressed Naruhito will announce his accession to the revered sun deity Amaterasu Omikami of Shinto, the most practiced religion in Japan.
As Naruhito visits ancestral shrines on this day, he is accompanied with a sacred sword and an unseen jewel — denoting his legitimacy as emperor — that were passed down to him from his father.
“By definition, the emperor is an intermediary or a direct descendent … of the highest (deity) in the Japanese pantheon … It’s a religious and not just a political ceremony,” Dr. Griseldis Kirsch, a senior lecturer of contemporary Japanese culture at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, told Arab News.
Representing the Japanese public, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will congratulate the new emperor by delivering three “Banzai” (“long live the emperor”) cheers to the new imperial couple.
Later on, on Nov. 10, a special procession will take place in the streets of Tokyo. Greeting thousands of flag-waving citizens, Naruhito and his wife Masako will be ferried around in a bespoke convertible Toyota Century limousine from the Imperial Palace to their new residence, the Akasaka Estate.
The warm tradition of meeting the celebratory masses was first introduced by Naruhito’s father.