What makes Japan’s enthronement ceremony so unique?

A November 1990 file photo shows Emperor Akihito’s enthronement ceremony. The same traditions will take place Monday. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

What makes Japan’s enthronement ceremony so unique?

  • Traditional music plays a role in creating cultured atmosphere during event

DUBAI: As Japan prepares to welcome a new emperor, Arab News takes a closer look at the tradition-bound enthronement ceremony, building on yesterday’s deep dive into the proceedings of the occasion. One unique visual attribute of the ceremony lies in the attire — embodying a combination of traditional and contemporary styles — that can only be worn by high-ranking individuals such as the imperial couple. The ceremony is part private-part public, meaning each segment follows its own protocol.
During the private part of the ceremony that takes place in Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, Naruhito and his wife Masako will exude a traditional look through elaborate, almost sculptural robes and headpieces.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako made their first public appearance after ascending to the throne at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on May 4, 2019. (AFP)

The empress is expected to don a beautiful and vibrant silk robe known as jūnihitoe.
A 12-layer, motif-embellished garment, this kimono design was originally created during Japan’s “Golden Age” of the Heian period (794-1185).
In terms of hair styling — which in itself is a detailed work of art — Masako’s gleaming black hair will be swept up, with a symbolic golden hairpiece resting above her forehead. Naruhito will be enrobed in what is commonly known as sokutai. Worn by military officials in ancient times, the sokutai is a voluminous outfit in a brown-gold tone — a color that is solely reserved for the emperor.
Commanding further attention and formality, a tall and lacquered headpiece (or kanmuri) will adorn the emperor’s head.

Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu (foreground) shouts banzai cheer for Emperor Akihito during the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Palace in 1990. (AFP)

Because these weighty traditional garments restrain freedom of movement, the couple will dress in refined Western clothing for their procession ride that will take place on Nov. 10.
Traditional music and dance also play a role in creating a cultured atmosphere during the course of the ceremony.
The incoming royals are great connoisseurs of music, both of them playing various instruments, including the piano and violin.
A stage is usually set up for this happening, where dancers and musicians — who play the lute, drums and gongs, among other instruments — immerse the viewer in Japan’s time-honored art of storytelling and poetry chanting through music.

UK police arrest man after stabbing at London Central Mosque

Updated 46 min 28 sec ago

UK police arrest man after stabbing at London Central Mosque

  • Victim was treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital
  • Man who was attacked in his 70s and stabbed multiple times

LONDON: A man attacked the elderly muezzin at one of London’s main mosques on Thursday, stabbing him in the neck before being arrested.

Metropolitan Police said they were called to London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park after reports of a stabbing.

Police were called to London Central Mosque, also known as Regent's Park mosque, on the city's Park Road to reports of a stabbing. (James Stringer/Flickr)

The attack targeted the muezzin, who performs the mosque’s call to prayer, the Muslim hate crime monitor TellMAMA, said. 

The man who was attacked is in his 70s and was stabbed multiple times, Sky News reported.

He was treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital. His injuries are thought to be non-life threatening.

Police said a man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder and a crime scene was put in place.

Video showed police subduing a man inside the mosque before leading him away in handcuffs. He was wearing a red hooded top and no shoes. 

Director-general of the Islamic Cultural Centre, part of the mosque, Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan described the attack and the emergency services’ response while confirming the victim was in a good condition.

He told Arab News: “We don’t have any information about the motive for this incident, why he did this or who he is even.

“Of course, we are unhappy about what happened, but we all hope that it was an individual attack and nothing linked to anything further than this attack itself.

“But we are worried and sorry about what has happened.” 

A makeshift area for sunset prayers was set up in the mosque so that worshippers could still pray despite the incident.