Imperial Enthronement: Morning Court Rituals

On Tuesday, the Enthronement of Emperor Naruhito took place with a series of ceremonies at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Empress Masako was spotted arriving at the palace early in the morning in a sleek,  unembellished bumper hat covered in a warm shade of ivory silk.

Embed from Getty Images

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: uncertain. I think it may be same hat was worn May 7, 2019; Mar 20, 2019; Jan 7, 2019; Dec 27, 2018

The day began with the ‘Sokuirei-Tojitsu-Kashikodokoro-Omae-no-Gi’ ceremony held at the Kashikodokoro Shrine within the Imperial Sanctuaries where Emperor Naruhito ceremonially announced the enthronement ceremony, which would shortly follow. For this event, the emperor wore traditional sokutai robes in white linen specifically cultivated for this event and a tall, black kanmuri hat.


Empress Masako wore a white and peach jūnihitoe, a formal ancient kimono, with multiple (at least 12) complex layers. The traditional costume includes a specific and rather distinctive hairstyle and triple pronged silver headpiece, worn just over the forehead.

Embed from Getty Images


This ceremony was attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, select government officials and members of the Imperial royal family. The imperial princesses followed a traditional court dress code of gowns with ivory hats.

Embed from Getty Images

Princess Kiko, Princess Mako, and Princess Kako all chose bumper designs with slightly different brim shapes and trimming.

While Princess Yoko was also in a cream silk bumper hat, her sister, Princess Akiko made a slightly different statement in a pillbox with textured vertical pinstripes, trimmed with a slim band around the middle of the hat that tried in a bow at the back.

The most interesting hats were, again, worn by the Takamado princesses. Princess Hisako’s bumper variation featured less structured sides that draped into some lovely movement. Princess Tsuguko was the only one to wear a brimmed design, trimmed with a slim bow at the front.

While I understand that a string of ivory hats might not seem exciting to western fashion sensibilities, I think there’s something serenely compelling and regal about it.

Photos from Getty as indicated and Sankei News

8 thoughts on “Imperial Enthronement: Morning Court Rituals

  1. Serene perfectly describes this ritual. Great to see the hat differences and various textures. The silk fabric for the princesses’ dresses are exquisite.

  2. Yes, serene is definitely among the best adjectives to describe this ceremony. So often we are used to Western enthronements, coronations, and inaugurations full of pomp, spectacle, and detail, yet the Japanese prove again simplicity and cleanliness can be just as effective in creating a powerful ceremony.

    My love of color is a bit saddened by all the ivory hats, but my love of detail is delighted to have these photos showing the subtle differences between them. Kako and Hisako were my favorites, and I like how Tsuguko stayed true to herself and wore something a little different. And despite their simplicity, you can tell they are all high quality by the smoothness of the material; no imperfections I can see here!

  3. I’ve really been looking forward to this series of posts Hat Queen. The ceremonies this week were so full of rich history and color, that this post, with all the white and cream was glorious in it’s simplicity. The white shades are so pure and ethereal, and these photos of the new Emperor and Empress are so full of dignity and hope. It’s really quite lovely.

    As for the hats, the photos you have provided have give us a closer look at the rich details. The fabric and folds are luxurious, particularly on the bumpers worn by Princesses Kiki, Mako, Kako. I am quite taken by the sweetness of the hat worn by Princess Tsuguko. In short, these hats are magnificent in their construction and design.

    Finally, I was delighted to come across a 3 part series on PBS (for North American viewers) on Emperor Emeritus Akihito last night (Oct 24). Interviews by friends from school and tennis, as well as staff from their landmark China tour were conducted. It was quite personal and I learned a great deal about this remarkable, and peaceful ruler. So, if you are in North America, and want to watch it, check your local PBS channel, or maybe local libraries have this video series entitled, just simply, “Emperor Akihito.”

  4. A fascinating ceremony.
    The video footage is excellent — I have never seen the princesses’ hats (and gowns and jewels) so clearly and in such detail before now.
    I really like Princess Tsuguko’s brimmed hat.

  5. Thank you for these beautiful images HatQueen! The seven silent princesses arriving in the pouring rain in their silk dresses and hats, each one holding a fan and a black umbrella, are something straight out of a fairy tale.
    Emperor Nahurito and Empress Masako look extremely dignified.

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