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An exhibition in a shopping mall provides rare glimpse into daily life of Japan’s Emperor

By TICAD7 Photographs - The Tea Reception at the Imperial Palace, CC0,

A new exhibition about the Japanese Imperial Family has opened in a shopping mall in the capital. 

It features clothes and other objects used by various members of the Imperial Family, both on a regular basis and for special occasions. 

The main piece on show is the clothing pieces that Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wore for their enthronement ceremony in 2019, which are full of symbolism and history. 

There is also the traditional clothing that their daughter, Princess Aiko, wore in December 2021 for her coming-of-age ceremony, also known as “chakko no gi.” 

Another interesting article of clothing featured in the exhibition is the outfit (dress, hat and clutch bag) that then-Masako Owed wore for the press conference that followed the Imperial House Council’s approval of her marriage to then-Crown Prince Naruhito. 

Also from the wedding of the now-Emperor and Empress is the Rolls Royce that was used after the ceremony, as well as a “bomboniera” – a favour that is offered to wedding guests after the reception. 

Similar objects from the coming of age of then-Crown Prince Naruhito are also on display, as well as the royal’s graduation thesis and a school bag that Naruhito was handed down from his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito. 

Another object is a camera that Emperor Naruhito regularly used. It appears to be an older model from Canon. This Japanese brand has its headquarters in the Ota area of Tokyo and has become one of the most globally recognisable brands of photography equipment. 

The exhibition is titled “Steps of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress in a new era” and was set up in the Chuo Ward of the Nihombashi Takashimaya Shopping Centre in Tokyo. 

It’s believed it was opened on Wednesday, 17 May, and it has attracted many curious people already. For a monarchy that doesn’t even have social media account, this exhibition provides a rare glimpse into the daily lives of the Emperor and Empress of Japan.