Thousands gather ahead of rare Japan imperial parade

Nellie Chapman
November 11, 2019

Some in the crowd camped overnight for a prime stop by the palace for the 30-minute parade featuring the Emperor and his wife Empress Masako.

The typhoon and the rainstorm in central and northern Japan left more than 100 people dead and about 100,000 homes flooded or damaged.

The royal couple emerged from the palace moments before 3: 00 pm (0600 GMT), with the Emperor wearing formal Western clothing and the Empress dressed in a long cream gown and jacket, wearing a tiara passed down by her predecessor.

Security was extremely tight with police setting up 40 checkpoints leading to the route.

Naruhito officially began his reign on the Chrysanthemum Throne in May, when his 85-year-old father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, officially abdicated after four decades, citing failing health.

Toshiko Ito, who visited Tokyo with her husband for the procession, said she was thrilled to see the couple.

Japanese officials estimated the turnout at 119,000, roughly 2,000 more than the parade for Naruhito's father, Emperor Akihito, for his parade when he rose to the thrown in 1990.

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"The Emperor is a few years younger than me but belongs to the same generation, and I feel connected with him", Yukari Oshita told Agence France-Presse. "And Empress Masako is someone who can be a role model for modern women with full-time jobs", she said.

Hours before the scheduled start of the parade, long queues formed at dozens of security checkpoints.

Masako, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated former diplomat who has been expanding the scope of her activities after years of struggling with a stress-linked illness, appeared teary-eyed at one point during the event.

Emperor Naruhito expressed gratitude to about 30,000 well-wishers who gathered at the entrance of Imperial Palace in Tokyo on November 9 in a festive event celebrating his accession to the throne. He drew 140,000 at his first public appearance as emperor in May.

Japanese well-wishers hold Japanese national flag at the Imperial Palace before the royal parade of Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako in Tokyo, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019.

However, the official proclamation of his enthronement was carried out in October, in a ceremony equivalent to a coronation. He proclaimed his enthronement at in an historic-type palace ceremony on October 22.

The parade comes a day after a national festival to celebrate the enthronement with dancers and pop stars offering performances.

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