Catching Up With The Imperial Royals

There are a number of hats worn this month by members of the Imperial Royal Family that we must catch up on:

April 2: The Imperial couple visited Nara to take part a memorial service commemorating the 2600th anniversary of the death of Emperor Jimmu (the first emperor of Japan). On the first day of their visit, which took them to the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Empress Michiko wore a new ensemble in a cool slate blue. Her saucer hat, a larger scale than we often see on her, was simply trimmed with silk flowers and leaves. It’s a great piece on her that worked well with her suit (love the lattice smocking detail!).

Empress Michiko, April 2, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown. Likely house of Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new

April 3: Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko visited the mausoleum of Emperor Jimmu. Empress Michiko repeated her small, stacked grey saucer hat with slim stripe around the outside of the hat and flat bow trim. Princess Kiko wore a large black bumper hat without embellishment.

Empress Michiko and Princess Kiko, April 3, 2016 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko and Princess Kiko, April 3, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer of Empress Michiko’s hat: Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: April 16, 2015November 20, 2013; August 15, 2011;  August 15, 2009; June 22, 2009; August 15, 2008August 15, 2007; August 15, 2006; August 15, 2005; August 15, 2004March 17, 2004; August 15, 2003; August 15, 2002August 15, 2001August 15, 1995
Designer of Princess Kiko’s hat: unknown
Previously Worn: November 12, 2012 

For their visit to the Kashihara Jingu Shrine later that day, Empress Michiko changed into a white suit topped with a white silk covered disk hat. We have seen this piece before on her- I like the wide, swathy white silk bow trim (Michiko’s hat trims are usually smaller) and the touch of grey silk on the bow ties the hat beautifully to her jacket.

Empress Michiko, April 3, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown. Likely house of Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: February 20, 2016; March 13, 2015

April 4: On the final day of their visit to Nara Prefecture, the Imperial couple visited Takamatsuzuka Tomb and museum in Asuka Village. Empress Michiko repeated her dove grey rimmed saucer hat with folded bow trim for this engagement.

Empress Michiko, April 4, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown. Likely house of Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: November 17, 2015

April 12: Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko  visited the Mausoleums of Emperor Showa and Empress Kojun. For this, she wore a new hat in slate blue-grey. The saucer design featured a short rim around the perimeter (it looks like the outside of the hat is white) and a stacked, folded bow encircling one side of the piece. Changes in the Empress’ millinery are subtle at the best of times but this is certainly a departure from the go-to shapes we usually see her wear.

Empress Michiko, April 12, 2016 | Royal Hats

April 20: And finally, Princess Kiko of Akishino, who is president of the President of the Imperial Gift Foundation Boshi-Aiiku-Kai, attended the foundation’s 48th National Convention in Tokyo. Made of the same monochrome striped silk as her ice blue suit, Kiko’s bumper hat was trimmed with what looks to be a small bunch of silk flowers on the side. What stands out to me here is how the brim has been covered on the fabric’s bias, creating a diagonal stripe. It’s another very subtle but rather lovely touch.

Princess Kiko, April 20, 2016 | Royal Hats

Princess Kiko, April 20, 2016 | Royal Hats

These aren’t the most exciting hats (and believe me, the sea of grey pieces in the Empress’ wardrobe is getting harder and harder to tell apart) but there are some design details, particularly on the first hat and last two hats, that are really lovely. Any thoughts on this bunch of very neutral Imperial hats?

Photos from Sankei; The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi ShimbunThe Asahi Shimbun via Getty; Sankei; Sankei; and FNN News

11 thoughts on “Catching Up With The Imperial Royals

  1. I like Kiko’s style, she seems very traditional and observant of duty. With Masako being ill, Kiko seems to have to stand in for her at times as the next most prominent Imperial Lady, and I think she does a great job.

  2. I love the new hat from April 2! I’m curious about the sleeve design of the garments she was wearing – is this a trademark of hers, or something historical, or…? Do you know anything about it?

  3. If one joins MrFitaroy in being of a certain age, we recall Crown Princess Michiko of the 1960s and 70s. While her style is mature now, it works brilliantly — if a little predictably. She is as elegant now as she was in her youth, and she was actually quite adventurous in her mid century millinery if one noses around the googles (unfortunately few color images). Would love to see her become part of Hat From The Past!
    Photo is from 1960.

  4. I love the first hat in pale blue from April 2! We haven’t seen this size of hat on the Empress for quite a while, and it’s good to see a little color for her. Unfortunately she doesn’t get much more colorful than that in this round. I realize the Japanese Imperial Family will always be conservative dressers, but I do wish they at least had a little more color (thank goodness for Hisako, Hanako, and Nobuko). I do think though the Empress is able to pull off grey very well, and the rest of her outfits here prove that.

    Kiko looks very nice, but I’ve always found her to be the most boring dresser in the Japanese Imperial Family. Her dress at the mausoleum visit looked very interesting as there was no clear waistline, but somehow it seemed to work well for her. Her hat on April 20 worked very well for her and coordinated nicely with her skirt suit and pearl jewelry; the added texture kept this hat interesting; this is one of my favorite hats for Kiko.

  5. It is rather amazing how many similar hats the Empress owns. As with Queen Elizabeth’s pink or turquoise hats, the storage of the Empress’s gray or off-white hats must be a quite a precise operation. I particularly like the slate blue outfit. I wonder whether a little lattice smocking could have been incorporated into the hat somehow.

  6. I prefer Princess Kiko’s bumper style to the small perchers of the Empress. The bumper is a kind of no nonsense hat that appeals to me, as long as it is not too big. Like most people now, I just wear utilitarian hats: sun hats, snow hats, gardening hats. I wonder if Princess Anne, a no nonsense person if ever there was one, could take to a bumper. Maybe it doesn’t work with her hairstyle. Funny that she’s stuck with the same hairdo for a long time, but hasn’t settled on a personal hat style, like some other royals have.

  7. All very lovely and serene. I wish I could think up a substitute for the word “elegant” when it comes especially to the Empress, and often for other members of the imperial family, but it will have to do for the moment.

    • Wait, is the other side of the folded bow of the hat worn on April 4 blue? A color that is not found elsewhere in this ensemble? Mercy! (It’s an adorable hat, though I wish the empress wouldn’t wear them quite so far forward.)

      • There is a hint of blue on the edge of the ‘cape sleeve’. I think it might perhaps have been lined in the same shade of blue!

  8. I like hat #1 the best. April 2, 3 & 12, the Empress’ outfits have a bluish hue on my computer. I find it interesting that her suit jackets have a sort of cape sleeve and so does Princess Beatrix (of the Netherlands!) Princess Kiko looks lovely.

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