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Funeral service of Japan’s Takahito, Prince Mikasa

As Royal Central reported previously, Japan was preparing for the funeral for His Imperial Highness Takahito, Prince Mikasa of Japan. The public funeral was Friday, 4 November at Toshimagaoka Imperial Cemetery in Tokyo. Afterwards, the Prince will be cremated before being interred. This service is steeped in tradition and rituals.

This sacred and very solemn ceremony was attended by nearly 600 mourners including the late Prince’s widow, Yuriko, Princess Mikasa. She was accompanied by her granddaughter, Princess Akiko. Others present included Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako. Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe and the Ambassador of the United States to Japan, Caroline Kennedy were also in attendance.

Due to Imperial protocol, Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan did not attend the ceremony. Representing them at the service was the Grand Chamberlin of the Imperial Household, Chikao Kawai. Their Majesties will visit Prince Mikasa’s residence twice more to pay their respects. The late Prince was survived by his 93-year-old widow, two daughters, and nine grandchildren. His three sons have all since died.

The funeral service began with its slow procession to the cemetery from the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo. It passed the Imperial Palace and mourners who lined the streets to pay their last respects. On reaching the cemetery, the mourners heard Gagaku, ancient Imperial Court music played on the Shakuhachi or Japanese flute.

Dressed all in white, a Shinto priest walked before the hearse. Princess Yuriko led the mourners as they followed the priest. Then, Shinto readings were read before the Chief Mourners laid ritualistic offerings of greenery before the altar of the shrine. Then mourners bowed deeply to pay their final respects to the late Prince.

Takahito, Prince Mikasa died on 27 October at the age of 100. The Prince had been suffering ill health since May of this year, but he battled heart problems for years. His death was due to cardiac arrest brought on by pneumonia.

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