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British royals mark a path – and Japan reprises the tradition of garden parties after 4 years!

Japan’s royal life is slowly returning to normal, and the Imperial Family hosted its first garden party of the Reiwa era, the first such event in more than four years.

Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and other members of the Imperial Family arrived in the gardens at Akasaka Palace wearing traditional kimonos and face masks.

The Emperor and Empress were greeted by the selection of guests, which included many sports personalities, such as Misato Michishita, a Paralympic marathon runner; Keiichi Kimura, who won the Gold Medal in swimming at the 2021Tokyo Paralympics; Shingo Kunieda, a 2021 Tokyo Paralympics gold medalist; table tennis player Mima Ito, who won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in the mixed doubles event; and speedskater Miho Takagi, a gold medal winner at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 

Also present among the rest of the guests was the 2019 Nobel Chemistry Prize winner Akira Yoshino. 

Members of the Imperial Family took their time to chat with some of the guests. Emperor Naruhito was heard telling Mima Ito that she must have faced many challenges, to which she was heard responding that she was able to win her medal after the unexpected one-year delay in the Tokyo Olympics allowed her time to improve her skills. 

As it happens at garden parties in other royal families, all guests were wearing name tags to allow members of the Imperial Family to identify them quickly, something that proved even more useful given the presence of umbrellas that blocked the view of faces. 

This was a monumental occasion for the Japanese Imperial Family and their guests, as it was the first garden party in more than four and a half years; the last such event was on 9 November 2018. 

As such, Thursday’s event was also the first Garden Party of Emperor Naruhito’s reign, known as the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) Era.