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What Japan’s Royal Women Wear





READ ALSO: Imperial Trivia: The Empress’s Tiara 


From robe décolleté to robe montante, women of the imperial family dress in particular ways for appearances at the Imperial Palace, depending on the event or ceremony. Let’s take a look at the unique characteristics of their attire.




What to Wear with a Tiara – the Robe Décolleté


Hours after ascending the throne last May 1, the Emperor Naruhito addressed the representatives of the Japanese people for the first time in a ceremony called the Sokui-go-Chōken-no-gi (His Majesty’s First Audience ceremony). The Empress and other female members of the imperial family appeared along his side.



The Emperor wore a formal black suit with white tie and tails, adorned with the medal of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Japan’s highest order. The imperial women were attired in their most formal ceremonial dresses.


The attire of choice for the Empress and princesses at this grand ceremony was the robe décolleté, a long, low-cut dress with short sleeves. According to the Imperial Household Agency, the women wore a white or soft-colored dress to match the emperor’s white tie, along with a tiara, medal, and long white gloves that cover up to the elbows.


As the robe décolleté is of the utmost formality, the women only wear it at certain events, such as the Emperor’s New Year greeting, coming-of-age ceremonies, and weddings.



The Less Revealing Robe Montante


The robe montante, on the other hand, is worn by imperial women on occasions when the Emperor wears his formal morning coat. The most noticeable difference is that the robe montante is a long-sleeved dress which shows little skin. When the Emperor wore a morning coat at the abdication ceremony on April 30, Empress Emerita Michiko, Empress Masako, and imperial princesses were dressed in the long-sleeved, high-neck robe montante.



The robe montante is worn at various events, including the utakai hajime (First Poetry Reading) and the ippan sanga, where the ordinary people are invited to visit the Imperial Palace on special occasions. At the ippan sanga on May 4, the royal women appeared on the Chōwaden Reception Hall veranda at the Imperial Palace, wearing the robe montate in various colors.



When to Wear Hats


A hat, rather than a tiara, usually accompanies the robe montante for ceremonies conducted during the day.


Junko Aoki, a research associate professor at Daito Bunka University whose expertise includes imperial fashion, explained: “Wearing the hat as formal wear is a modern Western custom, and it is thought that the Imperial Family followed suit. Empress Emerita Michiko seems to prefer small hats. On the other hand, the Empress Masako often wears big hats that cover the face. Their fashion shows that they value each other’s individuality.”




The Grandeur of the Jūnihitoe this October


The sokuirei-seiden-no-gi is a ceremony in which the Emperor proclaims his enthronement. For the new Reiwa era, this ceremony will be held at the Imperial Palace on October 22, 2019.


The Emperor, Empress, and other members of the Imperial family will be dressed in their most traditional ceremonial attire which will surely garner global admiration, as foreign representatives are also invited.


The Emperor will be clothed in the kourozennogohou, a robe which is also used for rituals at the Imperial Palace. It is only permitted to be worn by the Emperor.


Crown Prince Fumihito is expected to appear in the ouninohou, which is a robe specifically reserved for imperial princes.


The Empress and princesses will be wrapped in the jūnihitoe or, as it is formally known, the itsutsuginu-karaginu-mo. It is assumed that the base color of the Empress’s karaginu, which is the outermost layer, will be white.



While Crown Princess Kiko’s karaginu will be newly ordered, the other imperial princesses will be wearing purple karaginu that were used during the Heisei era. Different shades of purple will be worn based on the women’s seniority.


The nagabakama is the longer version of hakama, a traditional trousers-like clothing worn with the robes. The type of nagabakama to be worn differs based on the royal member’s marital status.


Unmarried royal women, such as Princess Mako, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko, will be wearing a dark shade of purple. The wives of other imperial family members, on the other hand, will be wearing a special shade of scarlet.



(Click here to read the article in its original Japanese.)



(Click here to read more about the imperial family as Japan enters a new era.)



Author: The Sankei Shimbun



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