Emperor and Empress Close Reign With Events in Tokyo

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have been busy this week, the final week before the emperor’s abdication next Tuesday, with a series of events in Tokyo. On Tuesday, two days ago, the couple visited the Mausoleum of Emperor Showa (Emperor Akihito’s late father) to report the upcoming abdication. For this rite, Empress Michiko repeated a charcoal grey disc hat with knotted bow and black dotted veil.

Designer: likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: I think this is new.Interestingly, she has a similar one in black that we’ve seen a few times (here and here and here) over the past two decades.
Later that same day, the emperor and empress visited Takao Mikoromo Seido, a temple for victims of work accidents. For this visit, Empress Michiko repeated her silver shantung silk rimmed saucer hat with flecked charcoal grey double bow in the same fabric as her jacket. The sheen on the base of the hat, thanks to that shantung silk, is so pretty.
Yesterday, the couple visited the Luxembourg Embassy to offer condolences on the death of Grand Duke Jean. Empress Michiko repeated a mini pillbox variation with raised height around the front, trimmed with a simple, fanning black silk and dotted net veil.

Designer: likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: Jan 7, 2019; June 25, 2014; and likely others

Today, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attended the Midori Academic awards ceremony. For this final official engagement of the Heisei period (the emperor’s reign), the empress repeated a hat we have much admired in recent weeks. Covered in oyster silk, this saucer features an ivory crin lattice underbrim and layered bow two-toned bow, trimmed in darker grey silk piping. The detailed view of the hat, below, shows the silk covering it (and on the empress’ suit) is woven with a metallic thread woven, giving it the most beautifully gentle sparkle.

Embed from Getty Images

Designer: likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: April 17, 2019March 26, 2019

Like many of you, my awareness of the Imperial royal family has grown during the later years of the emperor’s reign and my knowledge of the Chrysanthemum throne is limited at best. I have come to know Empress Michiko through her hats and have come to appreciate them and their wearer for their quiet elegance. I’m sure you join me in wishing this couple a smooth transition into their new role and the ability to truly enjoy a restful retirement which they have earned.

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

11 thoughts on “Emperor and Empress Close Reign With Events in Tokyo

  1. Such a lovely collection of hats! The Empress certainly has exquisite taste.

    I will miss Emperor Akihito, however. My husband and I were married in Japan, and our marriage certificate lists the date of our marriage as the 3rd day of the 4th month of the 8th year of Akihito’s reign, Heisei. I’m not sure how that will translate in the future, although I assume that the Heisei will indicate the reign. I hope he and the Empress have a lovely, peaceful retirement!

  2. Colorwise, these appearances are a bit anticlimactic for me, especially as I was hoping one of her blue hats would come out again before the abdication (I guess there are still a few days where that may happen!); nevertheless, the Empress still looks exquisite as ever.

    Like HatQueen, I’ve grown to know a lot more about the Japanese Imperial Family over the past five or so years, much in thanks to this blog! Hopefully someday, when things are quieter, we can get a proper retrospective at the Empress’ hats; there were some great ones from the 2000s.

  3. The veiling on the first hat is so ethereal. I’m appreciating the the oyster silk even more in this appearance.

    HatQueen, Virginia has asked about the Empress’s milliner, and I believe this is the first time you’ve credited anyone. Have you just learned about Akio Hirata?

    And of course, I’m sharing the sentiments of all about this lovely couple and their well-deserved retirement.

  4. HQ, you’ve perfectly described the empress and her simple millinery style with their “quiet elegance.” The emperor’s ties always seem to coordinate well also. The Imperial couple have always shown a dignified reserve which is so rarely seen today. Hopefully they will enjoy many happy, peaceful, and healthy years together.

    • Jimbo, you have stated it perfectly. I associate the Imperial couple with calm and quiet contemplation, and they will be missed. Hopefully we will still occasionally catch sight of them at least at family events.

  5. I love Empress Michiko’s distinctive style both in hats and clothes. Really unique and beautiful. I hope she and the emperor have a wonderful and restful retirement after so many dutiful years. However, I do hope we get to see her occasionally like we do Princess Beatrix and Queen Sofia.

  6. Is there any information about who makes her hats? They are so beautiful and suit her so well. But unlike the hats worn by European royalty, there is never a mention of her milliner.

    • Well, I’m an idiot! You have the name of the probable designer under each picture. Must learn to read *all* the information before posting!

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