Imperial New Years Lectures and Poetry Reading

The 2023 New Year’s Lectures and Poetry Readings took place last week at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

January 13: Ceremony of the Kousho Hajime (New Year’s Lectures)

Crown Princess Kiko repeated an ink blue velvet covered wide bandeau trimmed with embroidered lace applique flowers on one side.  Princess Kako repeated a bandeau of the same shape draped in turquoise silk.

Princess Kiko’s bandeau was previously worn: Feb 23, 2022; Feb 23, 2020
Princes Kako’s bandeau was previously worn: Jan 18, 2022

Princess Akiko repeated a palest yellow silk covered saucer with raised brim around the back, trimmed with a draped hatband and bow. Princess Yoko wore a sleek new pillbox covered in vibrant cerise silk.

Princess Akiko’s hat was previously worn: Dec 5, 2021

Princess Hisako and Princess Tsuguko repeated silk covered hats. Princess Hisako’s bumper, in muted pink printed jacquard, features an indented crown and twist on one side. Princess Tsuguko’s pistachio green pillbox with triple layered sash across the top of the hat embroidered with the same vine pattern as on the collar of her gown. The lily-of-the-valley blooms that originally embellished this hat but were removed for its last outing have magically appeared again!

Princess Hisako’s hat was previously worn: Feb 23, 2020; Feb 24, 2019;
Princess Tsuguko’s hat was previously worn: Mar 23, 2021; Feb 23, 2020; Oct 25, 2019; May 4, 2019

January 18: Utakai Hajime (Imperial New Year’s Poetry Reading)

Crown Princess Kiko repeated a blush silk jacquard printed bandeau with folded cuff across the front. The design is trimmed with organza flowers on one side.

Previously Worn: Nov 16, 2019

Princess Kako wore a new royal blue silk covered percher trimmed with a swirl of crin studded with silk roses. The updated neckline on her gown and new hat transform this ensemble into one much more sophisticated than its original form, a great evolution for a maturing princess. Kako suits the scale and placement of a percher so well.

Previously Worn: this hat is new

Princess Nobuko topped a plum velvet gown with a matching boater hat with brim raised on one side, anchored by a large silk flower.

Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new

Princess Akiko repeated a cream silk covered hat with short brim and triple layered hatband.

Princess Hisako repeated a striking teal silk pillbox hat trimmed with intricate embroidery around the side of the design along with feathers and a silk ribbon cockade. It’s worth noting that the matching gown bodice and sleeves have been remade. Princess Tsuguko’s blue silk covered hat with trilby-style raised brim around the back has also been changed since it’s last outing. Gone is the previous hatband of silk leaves, replaced with a more streamlined and angular hatband and a swath of net veil.

Princess Hisako’s hat was previously worn: Jan 14, 2016;
Princess Tsuguko’s hat was previously worn: Mar 26, 2021; 

There are some striking looks here- which ones stand out to you most?

Images from social media as indicated 

3 thoughts on “Imperial New Years Lectures and Poetry Reading

  1. The thing that most strikes me is that as a group, these are much more interesting than the hats of Japanese imperial ladies usually are, since they tend to stick to such conservative shapes. That may be because they are for court dress rather than outside engagements, but the effect is splendidly varied. Generally I’m not a huge fan of bandeaux, but I really like the effect on Kiko and Kako. I think my favourites would be Nobuko’s plum velvet with its jaunty aspect, and Hisako’s teal pillbox, which shows how striking even a small scale hat can be!

  2. All ensembles are quite beautiful – the excellent quality of the dresses and hats is obvious. I tend to appreciate the deeper colors – teal, royal blue, cerise, and turquoise, but my favorite hat is Princess Akiko’s pale yellow saucer.
    (HQ, if you get a chance, I emailed you last week.)

  3. The strictures of the Imperial rules do detract from the actual wonderfulness of Japanese court dress. Just as the exactly mirrored jewel parures and no coloured gemstones make their tiaras look boring when they are actually stunning, so the exact match of hat to robe montant makes these outfits lose impact, when both hats and dresses are beautifully made.
    My favourite is Princess Hisako of Takamodo’s purple ensemble, which reminds me of an Edwardian walking costume.The jaunty angle of that pillbox is very pretty.

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