Imperial Royals Celebrate Emperor’s 30th Anniversary

January 7, 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s accession to the Chrysanthemum throne. This anniversary was officially marked yesterday with a series of celebrations, beginning with the Emperor and Empress receiving family members, all in formal daytime court dress, at the Imperial Royal Palace. Crown Princess Masako repeated a blue silk bumper hat- a short video clip shows this piece has an interesting twisted brim around the back, something I don’t think we’ve been able to see until now.

Embed from Getty Images

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: Dec 9, 2018; Dec 9, 2017; Dec 9, 2015
Princess Kiko wore a cuffed calot hat covered in peach silk that I think is a new design for her. Princess Mako repeated the bandeau calot she wore on the day of her engagement announcement back in September 2017. Not visible here, the piece is trimmed with silk roses and leaves on the right side. It’s an interesting choice, particularly as her dotted silk gown has previously been worn with a matching bespoke calot covered in the same fabric. Princess Kako repeated her soft yellow spadded bandeau trimmed with a trio of silk blossoms on the bottom of each side, tucked behind her ears. Check out this bandeau’s previous outings on October 20, 2018 or January 14, 2015 for a better view. 


I believe Princess Hanako repeated her dark green velvet bowler hat with raised brim around the back, trimmed with ostrich feathers (and is that a bow I see?). Princess Yuriko of Mikasa (grandmother to Princess Akiko and Princess Yoko) wore a low-profile bumper hat in deep eggplant purple with ribbon detail on the back. 

Princess Nobuko of Mikasa wore a n open ring-shaped headpiece wrapped in green velvet. Princess Akiko topped her blue silk suit (with beautiful cutwork collar and yoke) with a matching silk rolled brim hat trimmed with ostrich feathers and blue veil. Princess Yoko’s tall, pale gray-green silk hat with high cuffed bumper brim had a retro 1960s feel, amplified by its placement on the back of her head. 

Princess Hisako of Takamado topped her textured pale lilac suit with a matching flat crowned hat with double brim, the outer one wrapped in the same fabric as her suit. Princess Tsuguko was also in a flat-crowned design, her repeated peach silk hat trimmed in looped peach fabric around the bumper brim.

The Emperor and Empress then attended an event hosted by the Japanese government at National Theatre in Tokyo. Empress Michiko repeated her slightly domed saucer hat covered in pale pink silk with white lattice crin underbrim, beautifully trimmed with silk cherry blossoms and a luminous silk bow

Embed from Getty Images

While the hat is not unlike Michiko’s other hats in terms of shape and scale, the colour is a slight departure (so good, right?!) and the trim is simply lovely. It’s a good hat for her as saucer hats go and I’m glad she chose something outside her usual grey palate for this celebration.
Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
Designer: likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: Nov 14, 2018

The evening saw a dinner at the Imperial Palace (Crown Princess Masako arrived in plum and Princess Kiko in vibrant blue) while today, most of the extended Imperial royal family was seen at a formal tea party. These photos certainly don’t show great view of these hats- despite these shortcomings, do any hats stand out to you?

Photos from Getty as indicated; The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun via Getty; Sankei News

15 thoughts on “Imperial Royals Celebrate Emperor’s 30th Anniversary

  1. I don’t know how I missed the fact there are cherry blossoms on the Empress’ hat, but it endears me to this one even more! As the cherry blossoms in DC are a beloved gift from the Japanese, this hat seems very appropriate for one of their final outings as reigning Emperor and Empress.

    While the hats worn by the rest of the family continue to be pretty sedate in comparison to the Europeans, I agree with hats off about how they are designed and worn well. And if you look at the throne room, it remains quite sparse and simple, so I feel like the court dress also reflects this traditional Japanese simplicity and appreciation for fine lines, lots of space, and resistance to too much “rococo”.

  2. Full video of the family greetings from Sankei.
    Princess Nobuko wore a green donut hat
    Princess Akiko repeated a fluffy percher (?)
    Princess Yoko repeated an icy blue pillbox/calot
    Princess Hisako wore a mauve bumper hat with some folds at the brim
    Princess Tsuguko repeated peach bumper hat with leaves.

  3. Agreed that the color and trim make this one of the best saucers in the Empress’s collection.

    HatQueen, I appreciate your analysis of these hats. Some of the details are so subtle that I could easily overlook them. But elements like the twisted brim make a difference, don’t they?

    Does anyone know when Aiko will start attending these ceremonies? Perhaps when she turns 18?

  4. I am really going to miss seeing this charming couple regularly. I am delighted that the Empress chose pale pink and cherry blossoms for this event. It seems so appropriate. I have to wonder if the Japanese Imperial Court will be even slightly less formal in the years to come. Whatever the case, this was a moving event that must have brought back a lot of memories.

    • The hats of the Imperial women are always so subtle and somewhat conservative as compared to other royal families, and yet so much in keeping with the formality of the court. This saucer hat was absolutely perfect for the occasion — both the color, and the very delicate embellishment! I know so little about the Japanese Imperial Court — will the Emperor and Empress retire entirely from view after the transition, or will they still carry out official engagements on a limited basis, similarly to the elder members of other royal families?

      • There hasn’t been a previous abdication so there’s no precedent for what will happen… I suspect they will retire mostly out of view but we’ll have to wait and see.

  5. I love the Empress’ powder pink suit: the cut of the jacket, so modern, yet reminding of kimono sleeves and very elegant for this beautiful lady of advanced age. The delicate little hat makes a perfect combination.

  6. I know it might not be everybody’s cup of (Japanese) tea but I can really appreciate these small hats and their ability to stay put. They are like little pieces of art folded on hair.

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