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.


Schools closed in New Delhi as air quality dips further

Updated 37 min 14 sec ago

Schools closed in New Delhi as air quality dips further

  • Buildings and monuments are largely obscured by the haze
  • The smoke from fields mixes with vehicle emissions and construction dust, making it the world’s most polluted capital

NEW DELHI: Schools in India’s capital are shut after air quality plunged to a severe category for the third consecutive day, enveloping New Delhi in a thick gray haze of noxious air.

According to the state-run Central Pollution Control Board, the air quality index Thursday exceeded 460, nine times the level recommended by the WHO.

Buildings and monuments are largely obscured by the haze and an official health advisory has asked residents to avoid all physical activity outdoors.

Air pollution in northern India, including New Delhi, peaks in the winter due to smoke from agricultural fires.

The smoke from fields mixes with vehicle emissions and construction dust, making it the world’s most polluted capital.