Abdication Marks Start of Reiwa Era

The 30-year Heisei reign officially ended today with the abdication of Emperor Akihito. The abdication ceremony was held in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.


Embed from Getty Images

Crown Princess Masako looked radiant in an exquisite new hat. The design features a domed crown covered in pearlescent silk and a lace covered bumper brim- the same scroll patterned lace as was on her gown. The hat shape works well with the high collared gown and the pieces combine to make an elegant and very regal look.

Embed from Getty Images

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: This hat news

Princess Kiko repeated a bumper hat in palest celery green silk. The raised brim is overlaid in the same lace as on Kiko’s gown. I prefer Kiko in more saturated colours but it’s not surprising to see her in a pale hue for such high profile events. The lace overlay on the hat’s brim provides a lovely, textural frame around Kiko’s face.


Embed from Getty Images

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: December 23, 2014

Princess Mako repeated a cuffed calot hat covered in the same ice blue floral printed jacquard silk as her gown. The blue silk flowers that adorned this hat at its first outing are visible in the photo below.

Embed from Getty Images

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: January 15, 2016

Princess Kako repeated a royal blue bumper hat with brim edge embroidered with the same royal blue bugle beads that trim the basque waist of her gown.

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: January 10, 2015

Princess Hanako wore a pillbox hat with domed crown, wrapped in a pleated silk wrap (or bumper brim?) and trimmed with a multi-looped bow. I believe this hat is new (the gown was paired, at its last outing, with a different hat). Princess Hisako repeated the deep purple bumper hat with ostrich feather pouf at the back we last saw her wear at the 2015 New Year’s Poetry Readings. Princess Tsuguko repeated the burgundy silk covered beret she wore for the 30th anniversary celebration of the emperor’s reign back in February. This view shows lavish floral and feather trim on the side of the design and a burgundy net veil that, I suspect, swaths the entire hat.

Princess Yoko topped her mint green silk gown with a matching veiled percher hat worn at a wonderfully rakish angle on the side of her head. The ensemble has a vintage, 1940s vibe to it that she wears very well. Princess Akiko repeated her lime-yellow silk gown with matching bumper hat with what looks like inlaid silk stripes on the side of the raised brim. Princess Nobuko paired her pale sage green silk gown with a matching brimless hat trimmed with a large ecru silk flower and veil. Princess Yuriko (Yoko and Akiko’s grandmother) repeated her deep eggplant purple, low profile bumper hat with bow at the back.

The Imperial royals know how to do retrained, elegant looks better than any other royal house and today was no exception. You can watch highlights of today’s abdication ceremony here along with commentary and an interesting overview of the Emperor’s life (start at 12:00). In recent days, NHK World also broadcast a 3-part documentary on Emperor Emeritus Akihito that I found informative, enjoyable and highly recommend:

Part I: Emperor of A Defeated Nation
Part 2: The Two Of Us
Part 3: The Symbol Of A Nation

The Reiwa reign of Emperor Naruhito began at the stroke of midnight (Japanese time) on May 1. His enthronement ceremony will follow tomorrow.

Photos from Getty as indicated; Kyodo News, Kyodo News and Kyodo News via Getty; NHK World

6 thoughts on “Abdication Marks Start of Reiwa Era

  1. Surprised to see so many repeats at a such a historic event, but the Japanese royals generally get a lot of mileage out of their hats. Agreed that the textured silk on the new Empress’s bumper looks very regal. Princess Yoko’s percher is unexpected — I don’t remember seeing any of the princesses in this style before.

  2. I understand that there are probably strict rules, or at least conventions, around what the imperial princesses wear at court, but these hatted events certainly beat the everyone identical in white with diamonds formal tiara events. Love the colours of the outfits of Princesses Hanako, Hisako and Tsukugo, especially Hanako’s teal. A much livelier hat than last time, and the two tone effect of the lace dress is lovely.
    I like Princess Nobuko’s hat too, probably because it employs two colours and isn’t quite so matchy matchy with her dress.

  3. I saw live footage of the short abdication ceremony, and while I really like Masako’s hat and dress (despite being in a predictable neutral color), I’m glad to see the photo of her in the car, which shows the lace and colors in more vivid detail. Excellent choice as she transitioned positions.

    The lace on Kiko’s ensemble helps keep it from being too boring, but the extremely pastel color and familiar shape don’t help this stand out from most other hats she wears. Mako and Kako’s hats were also in go-to shapes for them, although Kako gets points for the saturated blue.

    Hanako’s hat is a much-improved choice from the one previously paired with this dress, and I still adore this jade color scheme for her. The hat doesn’t stand out for Hisako like many of hers do, but the royal blue-purple color is new for her, and I applaud its choice. Tsuguko’s hat and dress was my favorite of the day (alongside Hanako and Masako); the beret shape is different enough from the pillboxes and bumpers favored by many of the Japanese princesses, but remains sedate enough to fit right in with its hat cousins, and the color is beautiful for her.

    I wish there was a bit more substance to Yoko’s cocktail hat, but I appreciate the choice of hat style, especially paired with her slightly-off-the-shoulder dress. Akiko’s hat and dress harken back to the 1960s, but she wears this styling very well. Nobuko’s hat trim helps elevate it from boring, although I wonder if the addition of veiling would help or harm this hat. Yuriko’s hat is an excellent choice for her, and I’m glad to see her out for these events considering she’ll be 96 in just over a month from now!

    • She did, indeed. There are too many bumper hats in the Imperial royal world to keep track of! Thanks for the correction- I’ve updated the post.

      • That’s right, too many bumper hats…but we will be able to see Princess Aiko’s beautiful hat collection within a couple of years!

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