Imperial Royals Attend Spring Garden Party

On Wednesday, members of the Imperial royal family joined the emperor and empress at the the Akasaka Imperial Gardens in Tokyo for the spring garden party, an annual event that brings us a parade of Imperial royal hats.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Empress Michiko topped her ice blue silk suit with a small saucer hat in the same hue, trimmed with blue camellia flowers and a flat bow around the front.

Embed from Getty Images

Crown Princess Masako wore a pale pink straw hat with domed crown and short kettle brim, trimmed with a wide ruched straw hatband that finished in a large bow at the side. The bow makes the hat, I think, softening the angular lines of the crown and giving the piece some much needed energy.

Apr 25, 2018 | Royal Hats

Princess Kiko and Princess Mako wore hats in the same domed crown and kettle upturned brim shape. Princess Kiko’s hat, in pale blue, is delicately trimmed with a wide silk ruched hatband and silk blossoms on the side. Princess Mako’s white design, which has a wider brim than her mother’s design, is trimmed with a wide turquoise hatband and origami flowers that circle the hat. The combination of wider brim and higher contrast trim (with interesting origami) makes this a winner for me.

Apr 25, 2018 | Royal Hats

Princess Nobuko stood out in a light purpley-grey hat with gentle side upsweep on the brim. The hat is exuberantly trimmed in a side spray of feathers and a wide swath of lavender and dark purple net tulle wrapped around the base of the crown that gives great movement to the design and links so well with the sheen of purple shades visible across the weave of her silk suit. Prinkess Akiko topped her pink suit with a matching hat with button crown, short cartwheel brim and bow on the side. Princess Yoko matched her pale yellow suit in a coordinating silk wrapped pillbox hat.

Princess Hisako wore a peach hat with square crown and widely rolled brim (the brim looks to be in the same silk jacquard print as her jacket while the crown looks to be a solid colour). Princess Tsuguko paired her burgundy silk dress in a matching bumper hat wonderfully trimmed with a wide silk bow and flowers on the side. Princess Ayako topped her yellow dress with a white button percher hat embellished with yellow and white flowers around the top half of the hat’s circumference. The floral trim on the hat references the ruffle on the hem of her dress, making a wonderfully coordinated and balanced head-to-hem look.


How great it is to see a variety of colour, trimmings and shapes on the Imperial Royals?! These nine hats, each of which I believe is a new piece, certainly made for a colourful millinery parade. Which designs stand out most to you?

9 thoughts on “Imperial Royals Attend Spring Garden Party

  1. Is it just me, or would anyone else love to see these ladies be a little more adventurous with their hat selections? I feel like they also have a tendency to wear hats that are just too heavy of a scale for their slight frames. But again, maybe that is just me as well. I would love, love, love to see them in something lighter and more elegantly scaled.

  2. The trim on the Empress’ hat is absolutely lovely and a nice change from what is often chosen for the trim; however, I do wish the color(s) were more saturated so we could appreciate these details more from at a distance.

    More color saturation for Michiko is also needed IMO, but again, an excellent choice of hat in terms of shape, and I love that bow!

    The color and trim of Kiko’s hat are nice, but the shape is off for me, and looks too much like a “Madeline” hat, a.k.a. a schoolgirl hat. A larger brim and/or a slightly narrower crown I think would help alleviate this issue for me.

    I like the idea of the origimai-esque trim on Mako’s hat, but the placement of them seems too random; otherwise this is a great hat, and the color scheme is great for her. P.S. Did anyone else do a double take wondering what had happened to Mako in the 7th photo of this post before they realized it was Nobuko’s nose and mouth creating an optical illusion? I had to laugh at myself on that one.

    Speaking of Nobuko: some fabulous colors and great hat trim, even if it does seem a little 1990s vibe to it. But who else would be able to rock this so well?

    Akiko’s double breasted jacket is great, and I love her hat, although I wonder if it would look better tilted to one side a bit?

    Yoko’s outfit was my least favorite of the day, not because she didn’t look good, but that the hat was boring and the yellow was too pastel.

    Hisako always knows how to bring it with her outfits! I love how her top is this peach lace hanging over her pearl white skirt and top/dress; very modern. Not certain how I feel about the matching fabric on the brim, but as is the brim this time and not the usual matchiness of the hatband (I’m looking at you Margrethe), I’m giving this a thumbs up!

    Tsuguko’s whole look is fantastic, and she always wears these bold and saturated colors well. She certainly wears big pillboxes well.

    Last, but certainly not least, is Ayako, with her lovely percher and unexpected addition of ruffles, which was a great choice!

    Overall, a great showing, but I do wish for more saturated colors in general for the Japanese Imperial women. Finally, as a random note: do any of the guests ever wear hats, or is this reserved only for the hosts? I notice some women in kimonos, but no one in the crowd seems to be wearing a hat otherwise, and this is something I’ve noticed over the years. Does anyone have more insight into this?

  3. What a great selection of hats from the Japanese ladies. It’s great to see a fair amount of variety in shapes! No forehead bolters for this bunch, but definitely lovely. My personal favorites are Princess Tsuguko, (I love the bumper/pillbox shape with the cluster of flowers), Princess Akiko (though I might have preferred it tilted a little bit), and Princess Nobuko (I love the exuberance of this hat, it reads to me as the JRF version of one of Max’s giant upswept picture brims).

    • I just realized that the Empress always wears forehead perchers. Strange that none of the rest of them do ever?

      • The late Japanese milliner, Akio Hirata, developed this saucer style for the Empress over 20 years ago when her chronic migraine headaches made larger hats no longer possible. She has not worn tiaras for a number of years for the same reason.

  4. Although her ensemble is darker, and so perhaps less spring-like, Princess Nobuko stands out for me. I love the wide brim on her hat and the almost iridescent look of the silk. My second favourite is the Crown Princess. It seems unusual to see a percher hat on anyone other than the Empress, so Princess Ayako also stands out. But then, I defer to you Hat Queen. Would you call her usual style of hat a percher? All in all, it is a beautiful display of spring finery.

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