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New Year Greeting from Emperor Akihito

On January 2 of each year the emperor of Japan makes a rare, “public” appearance. He doesn’t actually go out in public, but the public comes to see him and the rest of the Japanese Imperial Family.

This was my first, real chance to join in on these festivities. Apparently, I didn’t get enough of the crowds at Zojoji on New Year’s Eve or the crowds at Meiji Jingu on New Year’s Day (photos coming soon). The gates open at 9:30 for the first appearance at 10:10. Seven appearances happen during the day. I thought getting there at 9:30 would be perfect timing to see the 10:10 greeting. It turns out that arriving at 9:30 is perfect timing to make it through the gate at 10:11. I missed the first greeting but did see the emperor’s last wave and backside before he and the rest of the imperial family made their exit.

Above is what the crowd looks like in front of you at 9:30.

Photo number two is what it looks like behind you at 10:05.

A changing of the guard happened a couple of times before the 11:00 appearance. The number of security personnel at this event (and around Yasukuni Jinja down the street where I went after) numbered over a thousand I’m guessing.

There was even a pat down of everyone who lined up. I got in line for the pat down from the cute, female security officer. She told me to go get my pat down from a male cop which wasn’t nearly as fun. He did thank me, though, so I guess it was fun for him. 😉

An old lady near me passed out when they announced the Japanese Imperial Family at 10:55. They carted her off quickly, before the Japanese Imperial Family showed up behind the glass again.

From left to right you can see Crown Princess Masako, Crown Prince Naruhito, Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, and Prince Akishino.


“Slowly and cautiously” we moved out of the way for the next group of thousands to gather.

Here are a couple of videos I took. The first is when they made their 11:00 appearance. The second is the emperor’s greeting (a rather predictable “I’m happy to see you all. I ask that you all have a good year. I pray that everyone has a happy year and that the world is at peace.”).

3 Responses to “New Year Greeting from Emperor Akihito”

  1. 1

    Glad you were able to make it and film that video! I was with my girlfriend in her hometown in Aichi during that time.

    Nice site!

  2. 2
    leif hagen:

    Holy Cow! Those are some great photos of the Royal Family! Omedito gozaimashita!
    I just looked thru your awesome Thailand family vacation snaps; it looks like you’re having a wonderful time! I went to Bangkok and Koh Samui on a vacation with another American English teacher back in January 1990. Brings back some fun memories!

  3. 3

    Definitely great pictures of this event. It is an interesting look at a royal family and the devotion of their subjects.