Imperial Royals Appear On Palace Balcony

Following the abdication and enthronement ceremonies that took place earlier last week, the Japanese royal family appeared balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Friday for the emperor and empress’ first official public appearance.

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Empress Masako chose vibrant yellow for this debut, a colour we’ve not seen on her in recent memory. Her silk covered hat features a domed crown and tightly upturned kettle brim, trimmed with a hatband embroidered with diagonal stripes of gold and saffron bugle beads.

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The beaded hatband links with the exquisite starburst (or rising sun?!) motif around the collar and cuffs of her gown with a slight but very welcome contrast provided by the diagonal direction. It’s a matched ensemble, for certain, but such is the Imperial way at events as high profile as this and it’s wonderful to see something on the empress as sunny as her smile has been this week. Dare we hope it’s a foretaste of more vibrant hats to come?!

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: This hat is new

Crown Princess Kiko repeated a bumper hat covered in cream silk printed with a small floral jacquard pattern. The hat is simply trimmed with the same finely braided trim as on the bodice seams and cuffs of her gown. Kiko’s ensembles are always impeccably finished and I suspect the subtle detail in this hat is best viewed at closer range.

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Embed from Getty Images

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: January 15, 2016; December 23, 2011

Princess Mako repeated her cuffed calot hat and gown in printed pale gold silk. The hat is simply trimmed with a bow at the back.

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: January 16, 2017; December 23, 2015

Princess Kako followed her sister’s lead, repeating a cuffed calot hat and gown in pink silk printed with a small floral motif. As far as calots go, this has a lovely shape emphasized by the cuff. The right side of the hat is trimmed with pink silk flowers.

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: December 23, 2015

Princess Hanako brought some of her characteristic millinery pizzazz with a heart shaped hat in the same periwinkle blue silk as her gown. The hat’s crown features an inlay of pleats- a unique detail I can’t remember seeing on another royal hat. The pleats emphasize the unusual heart shape; the hat is finished with a small, rolled brim and spray of silk lilies of the valley at the back. The design feels rather creative for an Imperial hat, something I’ll always applaud!

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new

Princess Yuriko, who will celebrate her 96th birthday next month, looked regally elegant in her deep green pillbox hat trimmed with a silk rose at the side.

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: April 10, 2019

Princess Nobuko topped her melon hued gown with a pleated bandeau-calot in a slightly lighter shade, trimmed with orange silk rolled rosettes and bow loops on the side. The different shades of peach, melon and orange work so well to create a look that is interestingly nuanced but still, very coordinated

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe this is nes

Princess Akiko repeated her pale blues silk covered Breton hat trimed with ostrich feather wrap that fills the surface of the brim, and a dotted net veil.  The hat’s narrow brim suits petite Akiko very well and, as I’ve mentioned before, does not overwhelm the amazing cutwork on the collar of her gown.

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: February 24, 2019; January 16, 2019

Princess Hisako paired her salmon pink paisley floral high necked gown with a beautiful brimmed hat. The design, which features a shallow crown, is trimmed with a lace hatband and delicately patterned veil that overlays the brim. The plain salmon silk covered hat is further trimmed with a spray of silk blooms and leaves on the side. We consistently see the Imperial royals in hats and gowns of the same hue but the different materials used on the two pieces here give such lovely contrast and interest to the ensemble. It’s just exquisite.


Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: This hat is new

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Princess Tsuguko wore a percher hat in a beautifully patterned green silk. The teardrop shaped base is trimmed with a layered sash across the top of the hat embroidered with the same vine pattern as on the collar of her gown, and is finished with a trailing spray of blossoms on the side. The embroidered detail gives lovely dimension to the pieces and the balance of high collar, hairstyle and angle of hat placement (set off by that stunning aquamarine brooch) is just superb.

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Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: This hat is new

This event leaves me hope-filled for an increase of more colourful and creative millinery on the Imperial royal ladies during this Reiwa era. There are some wonderful hats here- which ones stand out most to you?

Photos from Getty as indicated; The Asahi Shimbun via Getty; Newsletter Communication Center; Jiji; Mainich

10 thoughts on “Imperial Royals Appear On Palace Balcony

  1. The shape of Masako’s hat is not my favorite, but that hatband is something new and exciting, especially paired with the sunburst collar and sleeve cuffs. The color is also a great choice, and one I definitely did not expect!

    Kiko was my least favorite, especially as it’s another variant of what we almost always see her in, both shape- and color-wise. Mako’s hat shape and trim were a little better, but the beige color really brings this outfit down for me. I like Kako’s hat best from this part of the family for the color and different details, but I think it looked better with her hair down when viewed directly in front.

    I like Hanako’s very unique hat, although the material and the way it covers the hat reminds me a little of a rubberized toy. Nevertheless, it’s a great design she wears well, and the floral trim on the back is the perfect addition. Yuriko’s trimmed pillbox is a variant on what we often see her in, but the differences in trim and choices of more bold colors make them stand out more, and I definitely love this one in green (my favorite color). Nobuko’s hat looks wonderful in all these orange sherbet shades, and I like that her hairstyle in the front is a bit unconventional for the traditional Japanese Imperial standards, but works so well with this hat. A great repeat from Akiko; definitely one of her best looks!

    Hisako was probably my favorite of the day, choosing a small saucer design instead of the usually favored pillbox/bumper. The trim is exquisite on this one, and I like that the materials of the hat and the dress are not matching. Tsuguko was a close second favorite, with the fabulous and unique trim on this tilted pillbox; and yes, that brooch is the icing on the cake for this ensemble!

    Overall, a most fantastic outing of hats to help kick off the Reiwa era!

  2. The color of Empress Masako’s ensemble reminded me of the Isabel Toledo coat and dress Michelle Obama wore for the 2009 inauguration. I believe the designer called it “lemongrass,” and it was meant to convey optimism — perhaps Masako is expressing a similar attitude. In any case, she looks wonderful.

    Princess Yuriko looks regal in her green rose-trimmed pillbox. I agree with k2classroom that the sagging appearance of the crown of Princess Tsuguko’s hat mars it a little. My favorite is Princess Hisako in one of her go-to shapes. Beautiful color.

  3. I like Empress Masako’s dress more than her hat.
    Akishino princesses’ hats are nice and appropriate.
    Great to see Princesses Hanako and Yuriko.
    The blue dress and hat seems to be Princess Akiko’s favorite. She’s worn it 3 times already.
    I’m most impressed with Princesses Nobuko, Hisako and Tsuguko’s hats and Tsuguko’s aquamarine brooch!!

  4. I love the bunch of flowers on the side of Princess Tsuguko’s hat, but I wish the crown of the hat wasn’t sagging in the middle under the layered ribbon. I also like Princess Hanako’s hat and would like to get a better view of it from different angles. The new Empress and Crown Princess looked very regal. A lovely rainbow of hats!!

  5. Princess Tsuguko is my favourite too, but again, a closer than usual view of the imperial hats and ensembles shows exquisite workmanship. The Empress and Crown Princesses gowns are lovely.

    • Thanks for making this point- while we may frown upon Imperial hats for not being ‘au courant’, they are consistently, impeccably made.

  6. The detail on the dresses are glorious. I think Empress Masako’s yellow dress is one of the best dresses ever. It’s perfection.

    For the hats, I think Princess Nobuko’s hat is lovely. I love the style and color.

    What a terrific showing by the Imperial ladies all week.

  7. Princess Kako and Princess Tsuguko are my favourites. I am not a fan of the very blunt bumper style hats on many of the other ladies, as they seem very heavy on the delicate features of the royals.

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