Japan's Emperor Naruhito Hosted the First Garden Party in His Reign

Emperor Naruhito hosted Garden Party

We usually heard about Garden Parties closely associated with the British Royal Family, however, Japan's imperial family has also a tradition of hosting garden parties annually. It was, however, not held for four years due to Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019 and the pandemic times that followed.

On May 11, 2023, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan hosted a Spring Garden Party at the Akasaka Palace's imperial garden in Tokyo. About 1,300 guests attended the event. It was the first garden party to be held since 2018.

Emperor Naruhito hosted Garden Party
The imperial family greets guests. Credit: Japan Household Agency

This year, the invited guests were composed of Japanese citizens who brought honor to the country through sports and the Nobel Prize.

Among the guests who attended the event were tennis star 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, speed skater Miho Takagi, a gold medal winner at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and Akira Yoshino, who was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Emperor Naruhito hosted Garden Party
The Japanese imperial family at the Garden Party. Credit: Japan Household Agency

The emperor and empress were supported by Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko, who recently attended the Coronation of King Charles III in London, their daughter Princess Kako, and other members of the Imperial Family.

But there were no reports to confirm if the emperor and empress's only child, Princess Aiko, has attended the first Garden Party of her father. Princess Aiko is not in life to succeed her father due to Japan's rule of succession.

The royal family members in face masks, greeted the guests, holding umbrellas due to the pouring rain in Tokyo that day.

Emperor Naruhito was heard telling Mima Ito that she must have faced many challenges, to which the table tennis star responded that she was able to win the doubles event after improving her skills during the one-year delay of the Tokyo Games.

Takagi was told by Empress Masako that she had a great result at the Winter Games, to which she replied that she was able to complete races thanks to her fans’ support.

Emperor Naruhito hosted Garden Party
From left: Crown Prince Fumihito, Crown Princess Kiko, their daughter Princess Kako, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako

The emperor lauded Kunieda for his significant contributions to the development of wheelchair tennis and parasports. “I felt that the efforts I made paid off,” Kunieda told reporters after the party.

The Japanese imperial family usually hosted the garden party every spring and autumn, with some 2,000 notable figures in their respective fields invited as guests. The event was last hosted by Emperor Aihito in 2018, a year before he abdicated. 

Crown Prince Fumihito attends King Coronation
Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko attend King Charles coronation

As precautions against COVID-19, the number of guests was reduced, and attendees were served only nonalcoholic drinks. Past parties included food and alcoholic beverages.

The male imperial family members wore morning suits while the females wore the traditional Kimono attire and a pair of Okobo sandals.

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