Fumie's Sphere

Insights into the worlds of winemaking and nature

Enthronement 2019 February 16, 2020

Filed under: Japan — Thorpe Vineyard @ 4:54 pm
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Last year my home country Japan welcomed the new emperor.  Emperor Akihito, the 125th Emperor of Japan, abdicated on April 30th, and his son, Throne Prince Naruhito, ascended to the Throne the next day.  This was the first time in 202 years since the last imperial abdication took place in Japanese history, and now there are the Emperor and the Emperor Emeritus co-existing in the nation.  (I wrote an article about this historic event in April 2019 Newsletter.  Click here to read it.)

There were a series of ceremonies for the Enthronement of the 126th Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, throughout 2019.  Here are some snapshots to share with you.


Emperor Naruhito's First Speech - Image #1

Emperor Naruhito, accompanied by Empress Masako, gave his first speech as an emperor in front of the representatives of the people at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on May 1st shortly after the Ascension Ceremony.






The Proclamation Ceremony, the most notable of all, took place on October 22nd in the Palace in front of 1999 guests, the foreign and domestic dignitaries.  There were two structures, Takamikura and Kichodai, that the Emperor and the Empress resided during the Ceremony respectively.  They were eight-sided buildings, about 22- and 18-foot high, that always remind me of gazeboes I see around here.  The form of the structure has been in use since the 8th Century for the imperial enthronement.  These particular two buildings were built in 1913 for the Enthronement of Emperor Taisho, Emperor Naruhito’s great-grandfather.  They were broken down into smaller pieces and brought from the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, then put back together for the Ceremony in Tokyo.


Emperor in Ceremonial Robe (2) - Image #4

Emperor Naruhito wore the Kourozen-no-gohou, the robe made with the fabric in the color that is permitted to be worn only by an emperor.  The use of the robe of this kind was first noted in the late 8th Century.  Here in this image Emperor Naruhito is standing in Takamikura with the text of the Proclamation in his hands.  The Imperial Treasures he inherited as the proofs of the throne are placed beside him.

Empress in 12-layered Kimono - Image #5


Empress Masako dressed in the 12-layered kimono with the traditional hair piece.  The style of this costume was also established in the late 8th to 9th Century.




Motorcade Parade - Image #6

Motorcade Parade was planned to immediately follow the Proclamation Ceremony first.  But Typhoon Hagibis left devastating damage to the wide areas of Japan just before the Ceremony.  The Administration decided to prioritize the rescue effort by rescheduling the Parade to be on November 10th.  The procession took about 30 minutes in central Tokyo from the Imperial Palace to the Emperor’s residence, the Akasaka Estate.


All images courtesy of NHK, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)


Indian Summer and Koharu (小春) Biyori (日和) October 18, 2019

深い秋が訪れた! (春を含んで)

 立原道造 「忘れてしまって」より

“The deepened Autumn has arrived! (with Spring within)”

by Michizou Tachihara, translated by Fumie Thorpe
The stretch of pleasant sunny weather last week kept reminding me of the term “Indian Summer.” According to my search result, its use is meant to be after experiencing killing frost. We did have the first frost on October 4th, but it was not hard enough to bring an end to the growing season up here. Despite the definition, it came to me along with this line of a poem that I first read over 40 years ago.
We call the warmup after killing frost (or noticeable cool down toward the end of fall) Koharu (小春) Biyori (日和) in Japan. Koharu (小春) is an alternative name of October in Lunar Calendar that falls anywhere between late October and early December in Solar Calendar. The Chinese characters mean “Little (小) Spring (春).” Biyori, or hiyori depending on the context, (日和) indicates a right weather condition for a specific event to happen. So, Koharu (小春) Biyori (日和) means the nice weather, as if spring had come back after having a cold weather pattern that foreshadowed coming winter during a month of Lunar October (that is “Indian Summer” in English to me).
Indian Summer is said to have its origin in England, again, according to my search. Summer is no doubt the most pleasing season of all out there with longer daylight, reasonably warm temperatures and low humidity, due to their locality at higher latitude and on the western side of a continent. I don’t wonder why they think of summer when the enjoyable warm weather returns after winter-like chill.
On the contrary, summer is hot and moisture laden with lots of rain in Asia. Remember: Eastern to Southeastern Asia sits in the prominent monsoon zone, where the high annual rainfall enables there to be the largest rice producing region in the world. Summer is often sultry and uncomfortable (to say the least!); not quite the weather we imagine when pleasant warmth revisits following an early sign of winter. As the natural transition of seasons, we think of spring after undergoing some wintry weather.
Michizou Tachihara has been my single most beloved poet since I first encountered his works when I was in Junior High School. He died of tuberculosis in 1939 at the age of 25. He saw the surge of nationalism that divided and lead the world to the Second War. Those were the days when so many lives, especially youngsters, were lost to the war and diseases there, here and elsewhere even before they had a chance to know what life could have really meant.
Summer or spring; the difference in terminology reflects the language we speak and the climate we live in. But we all know the sense of comfort in the return of warmth in late fall – it’s a moment of joy in finding a “little spring,” to me, beyond the brilliant foliage and in the soft breeze that weaves through the vineyards.

Turning a Page in History April 29, 2019

Filed under: Japan — Thorpe Vineyard @ 10:39 am
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fojMy home country Japan has been under the reign of a single Dynasty for over 2500 years – well, give or take a few hundred years to be honest. Our history starts with a mythology involving how the nation was formed. Supposedly God dipped his rod into the ocean to stir, then he pulled it out. When a few chunks of mud dribbled from the end of his rod and formed islands in that part of the Pacific, they turned into Japan. That’s the way the mythology begins.
Even after all these years, a fascinating fact is that the monarchy has been still continuous since they first took power a long time ago. By the time the 6th Century came around, there was a centralized government of Japan which was built by imitating that of China (or then China – the name of the nation in charge has changed countless times in the Continent). The form of the administration has gone through from a monarchy to aristocracy to feudalism (Shogun was the Boss) to now a parliamentary democracy. Yet the Imperial Family has always kept a relationship and involvement with any ruling party of the time.
In August 2016 our current Emperor Akihito, who is the 125th Emperor in line, appeared on TV to address the nation that it was getting increasingly difficult for him to keep up with the duty as an emperor as he aged. He was 82 years old. According to the current Imperial Household Law the throne is a lifetime tenure and the change can only happen following the passing of the current emperor. The Emperor expressed his hopes the nation would understand his feelings and agree to alter the law so that he would be able to abdicate. And the nation did listen to him. A set of special legislations was passed in the Parliament and enacted into the Law in 2017. That was the beginning of the path for Japan to see the Imperial Abdication for the first time in 202 years of its history.
Akihito and Naruhito April 2019Emperor Akihito is the first to serve as an emperor under the Japanese constitutional system called Symbolic Monarchy. He himself looks back the days of his reign and says that he has endlessly deliberated the meaning of a “symbol of Japan.” He is, in a sense, not a person. He and other Imperial Family members do not have the registers that the rest of the citizens do. They don’t commit to any political activities including voting. His being there is for the nation. He says he has done what he has come to think the role of a symbol of Japan should be. He adds that his son, the Crown Prince, will succeed the throne to perform what he interprets the role of the symbol ought to be.
The date of Emperor Akihito’s abdication was set to be at 5 pm on April 30, 2019. Yes, it will be the last day of this month. The Crown Prince, Naruhito, will be enthroned as the 126th Emperor on the following day, May 1st. The change of the Era will take place at the same time from Heizei to Reiwa. It is expected that both Emperors will address the nation and world at the abdication and enthronement, respectively. Japan is now in its longest national holiday season of the year – we call it a “Golden Week”, as there happen to be a few national holidays occurring successively from the last week of April through the first week of May. They’ve added 2 more holidays this year for the abdication and the enthronement. Cherry blossoms are gone, but there is no shortage of flowers and young green leaves in the air of Tokyo. I wish them the best, and dream about apple blossoms and bud break on the grapes to follow here on the shore of Lake Ontario.

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