Imperial Royals Celebrate Emporer’s 85th Birthday

Emperor Akihito marked his 85th birthday yesterday with an annual greeting from the Imperial Palace balcony and a special birthday lunch which included members of the extended Imperial royal family.

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While the Empress did not wear a hat (as other monarchs usually do not when hosting an event in their home), Crown Princess Masako wore a matching midnight blue velvet ruched dress and bumper hat. The same bugle bead embroidery on the cuffs and collar of the dress trims one side of the hat, adding a lovely bit of sparkle against the dark colour which is glorious on Masako.

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: While very similar to this hat, I believe this is new

The ladies of the Akishino family wore a trio of calot hats, all which I think are new. Princess Kiko’s royal blue design features a cuff and bow (or butterfly) trim at the side while Princess Mako’s narrower design (a bandeau-calot hybrid) in pale seafoam green silk is trimmed with pale pink roses on the side. Princess Kako completed the trio in a pale aqua silk covered calot with cuff brim and silk floral trim at the side.

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Princess Hisako and Princess Tsuguko of Takamado and Princess Nobuko, Princess Akiko and Princess Yoko of Mikasa joined the family for a celebration lunch, all of them in brimless pillbox or bumper designs. Princess Hisako stood out in a vibrant blue feather trimmed bumper hat previously worn to the 2014 annual New Year’s Poetry Reading. Princess Tsuguko repeated her peach silk covered bumper hat trimmed with large abstract leaves in the same hue (worn for the New Year Poetry Reading last January). Princess Nobuko’s hat, in pale celery green, features a bumper brim that overlaps on one side and a crown covered in the same lace as the bodice of her gown. Princess Akiko’s pale yellow bumper hat is lavishly trimmed with what looks like a large silk flower and net ruffles in the back while Princess Yoko repeated the textured salmon pink pillbox trimmed with chevron stripes of ostrich feathers that she wore for the New Year’s Poetry Reading in 2016. 


It’s wonderful to see most of the Imperial royal family in attendance for this celebration- the Emperor’s last before the throne is passed to Prince Naruhito in April. What do you think of these festive brimless hats yesterday in Japan?
Photos from Getty as indicated

7 thoughts on “Imperial Royals Celebrate Emporer’s 85th Birthday

  1. Yes, this is a very similar ensemble to the one you referenced, but it’s still wonderful to see Masako wearing this rich navy blue color again! The brooch really helps make this stand out, but I do wish her hair was worn down; I think she looks great with her hair down.

    It’s also great to see Kiko out in a saturated color, although slightly disappointing it’s the same as Masako. Mako and Kako looked lovely and the trim on Mako’s hat is something a little different, but because of the color and shape, I feel like we’ve seen these before (even though they are new).

    As Sunny said, the extended family looked like a pastel rainbow! Hisako and Tsuguko looked good, but compared to what they often wear, I found these hats quite sedate and a bit boring unfortunately. Nobuko’s use of greens was a fun choice, but I don’t think the design and mixture of fabrics worked as well as it could’ve, but perhaps it looks better in person. Akiko’s hat reminds me of one of my favorite hats for Princess Astrid of Norway, which endears me to this one even more! Brava! I like the look of Yoko’s hat, but it seems to sit very high on her head.

    Overall, a great showing for this final official birthday for the Emperor (which he shares with Queen Silvia and Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia).

  2. Even though, as Sunny said, the Imperial hats are rarely exciting, they are still lovely to look at, and this must have been a very emotional event for the Emperor and Empress — so nice for them to have so much of the extended family gathered there.

  3. Interesting that the day dress code for the ladies long formal gown and hat is something we don’t see in Europe much anymore. The closest I can think of is the Dutch Prinsjesdag where the Queen wears 18th century court dress of long gowns and hats.

    The Imperial family don’t have the most exciting hats ever but I do love seeing the individual details and trims. I love the colours this year too, they look like a pastel rainbow. I like how you said Princess Hisako stands out. She is my favourite member of the Imperial family. So happy and cheerful and seems to be pretty independent and do her own thing insofar as she can within the constraints of that Family.

  4. Wonderful to see more photos of the extended family! Princess Kiko’s hat looks similar to the blue calot Princess Mako wore to Emperor Akihito’s 84th birthday last year. Hopefully more photos surface at the next Sankei Imperial Weekly.

    I wondered how the princesses’ hats survive the deep bows and such… perhaps hidden combs or thin headband? The Empress’ saucer hats have thin headbands. I haven’t spotted hat pins or maybe they aren’t as obvious?

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