October 17th Update: The government has said that the Emperor’s enthronement parade will be postponed to November 19th due to the destruction caused by Typhoon 19.
On October 22, 2019, Emperor Naruhito will be enthroned as the 126th emperor of Japan. This event will be celebrated throughout the country in a series of ceremonies lasting from October 22nd to 31st, including the participation of 200 foreign dignitaries who are flying in for this historic occasion.
October 22nd is also a national holiday. The public will be able to join in the celebration, as there will be a parade of the imperial court through central Tokyo from the Imperial Palace to the Akasaka Residence.
Below is an overview of the enthronement ceremony and what to expect with respect to airport restrictions, traffic congestion and crowds on the day.
1. What will happen on the day of the Emperor’s Enthronement?
The Japanese imperial enthronement ceremony consists of three main parts. The first already took place this spring after Emperor Akihito abdicated on April 30th, ending the Heisei era. The accession ceremony took place on May 1st, ushering in the Reiwa era.
The second part of the ceremony, to be held on October 22nd, is called the sokui-no-rei (即位の礼) and is the enthronement ritual itself. The last such ceremony was held in 1990 for Emperor Akihito. It was done indoors, with the elevated stand placed inside the Tokyo Imperial Palace complex. Only part of the ritual was public, and the regalia was only seen by the emperor and a few Shinto priests. (Source: Wikipedia). In this ceremony, the enthronement is officially proclaimed and representatives from Japan and abroad express their congratulations.
Unlike the previous enthronement ceremony, the government has announced that the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito will be broadcast on the government’s internet TV channel.
2. National Holiday
October 22nd has been declared a national holiday to celebrate this historic occasion. Government offices and banks will be closed.
After the enthronement ceremony, the Emperor and Empress will proceed by motorcade through central Tokyo in order to receive the good wishes of the public.
The procession will leave the Imperial Palace at 3:30 PM and arrive at the Akasaka Imperial Residence around 4:00 PM.
There will be road restrictions surrounding the parade route and and heavy congestion is expected.
The public is urged to take public transportation.
4. Road restrictions
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police has issued road restrictions that will take place between October 22nd and 23rd. You can download the official announcement here.
What to be aware of:
- Intermittent traffic restrictions will take place on 22 and 23 October 2019 from morning till late at night.
- The restricted part of the Expressway (shown in red on the map) will be inaccessible to all vehicles including route buses and taxis.
- Ad hoc restrictions may be in place from October 22nd to 25th, in some sections between Haneda Airport and downtown Tokyo.
- The Central Circular Route will be open as a detour.
- The Bay Shore Route will be open but subject to ad hoc restrictions.
- Road closure in the vicinity of the Imperial Palace and the Akasaka Imperial Residence will also take place on October 22nd.
Parade Route and Which Areas Will be Restricted
What to be aware of:
- Hibiya Underpass will be closed.
- Sotobori-dori Ave. between Yotsuyamitsuke and Sannoshita will be open until the Imperial Procession approaches.
- Shinanomachi Sta. crossing will be accessible only to drivers coming from the direction of Yotsuya-3 crossing to make a U-turn or a right turn.
Trains will be operating on a regular holiday schedule, but expect heavy congestion at stations near the parade route. These include:
- Akasaka Mitsuke
- Aoyama Itchome
5. Airport congestion, possible check-in delays, and delays
Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau has also asked the public to be aware that major traffic congestion is expected on October 22nd and 23rd due to visits by foreign dignitaries.
- Major traffic restrictions will be in place on the Metropolitan Expressway, in central Tokyo and around the airports for an extended period. Expect congestion.
- Do not drive your car to either Narita or Haneda Airports on October 22nd and 23rd. Use public transportation.
- Allow extra time when checking in. Heightened security procedures will be implemented starting October 13th. All passengers are advised to arrive at the airport well ahead of their flight time.
- Some flights may be delayed. Due to the increased number of flights, there may be delays in arrivals and departures.
6. Other Things to be Aware of
Court banquets for domestic and foreign guests will be held October 22 (Tuesday), 25 (Friday), 29 (Tuesday) and 31 (Thursday).
Banquet hosted by the Prime Minister and his spouse
On the evening of October 23 (Wednesday), a banquet hosted by the Prime Minister and his spouse will be held in Tokyo to thank foreign heads of State and other dignitaries for visiting Japan.
Public Viewing of the Imperial Throne
The Takamikura (the Imperial Throne for the Emperor) and other items used at the ceremony will be exhibited to the public.
Tokyo National Museum
- December 22, 2019 (Sunday) – 25 (Wednesday)
January 2, 2020 (Thursday) – 19 (Sunday). Closed on January 6, 2020 (Monday) and 14 (Tuesday).
Kyoto Imperial Palace
- March 1, 2020 (Sunday) – 22 (Sunday). Closed on March 9, 2020 (Monday) and 16 (Monday).
In case of inclement weather
- In the event of a typhoon or other inclement weather, the parade will be postponed to Saturday, October 26.
- If there will be postponement, an announcement will be made on Monday, October 21 at 6:30 PM.
- If there is a postponement to Saturday, October 26, the departure and arrival time schedule will be the same.
Sources: Wikipedia, Japanese government press release on the Accession to the Throne of His Majesty the Emperor, Civil Aviation Bureau announcement
Lead photo:Presentation of the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi and the Yasakani no Magatama at the enthronement of Emperor Akihito, 1989, Wikipedia