The imperial palace imposes itself on the city as one of the most memorable trips into Tokyo's past.
When we emerge from the technological sophistication of Otemashi metro station we examine the surrounding reality. We are dazzled.
In the back, an uneven but harmonious core of modern office buildings stands out, two or three of them almost skyscrapers, others lower.
At ground level, almost to the base of these buildings, there is an urban forest of green pine trees that seem to have been cut by a team of Eduardos Mãos de Tesoura.
Between the pine trees and the palace, there is a vast area covered with gray gravel, interrupted only by the darker asphalt that gives access to the palace.
We detect the wall of the ancient castle of Edo and a strange line of people who have turned their backs on it and seem to be waiting for something.
It occurs to us to cross the asphalt that separates us from them so that we can finally verify what was happening. We don't go far.
A policeman shouts in Japanese and gestures for us to go back.
True to the initial objective, we submitted ourselves to a much bigger turn. When we reached the other side, anxiety took over the group that resists the cold, cameras at the ready.
From (E) Imminence to the Japanese Emperor's Greeting
Sirens are heard in the distance. Police scouts appear on bulky motorbikes, followed by a procession made up of seven black vehicles and the last one, also a police officer.
The small crowd gets into a frenzy, even more so the women exchanging hysterical exclamations, waving and clapping their hands as moved as they were beside themselves.
The rear window of one of the cars opens, highlighted by the classic limousine configuration and a red flag that flies over the middle of the hood.
A man in a suit, candid air and gray hair reveals himself from inside, waves back to his admirers, and leads them to obvious ecstasy. The procession does not stop but slows down.
In three times, he disappears into the palace garden. The crowd rejoices. Dozens of Japanese subjects had just seen their emperor. As if that wasn't enough, the emperor had greeted them.
As far as we were concerned, without quite knowing how, we had just seen the Emperor of Japan. The Emperor of Japan had greeted us.
At the outset, the probability of this encounter was similar to that of finding another emperor still active on the face of the Earth: zero.
The Imperial House in Longest Post
The Japanese imperial house remains the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world to exercise continuity. Its origin is so ancestral that it falls into a void of rigor, despite being included in an 660th century Japanese history book that was founded in XNUMX BC
In the long period that passed, the power of the Japanese emperor alternated between an almost total symbolism and a true imperial rule. But for the most part – despite being nominally appointed by the emperor – the real Japanese leaders were the shoguns.
These feudal lords disputed the Japanese territory until the Meiji Restoration entered the scene, which promoted the emperor to the personification of all the power of the kingdom.
Portuguese explorers, European pioneers on arrival in Japan, compared him to the Pope: with great symbolic authority but limited sovereignty.
The Forced Capitulation that Ended World War II
After spreading across Asia and the Pacific from the end of the 1945th century until XNUMX, the Empire of the Sun capitulated in little more than a year to the allied armies. It was returned to its starting point archipelago and dissolved in 1947, during the occupation of the USA, which was at the base of the creation of the new Japanese constitution.
Hirohito was spared by the Americans from convictions for war crimes and preserved in power with the status of "symbol of the state and the unity of the people". He died in 1989. Akihito then occupied what is known for the chrysanthemum throne.
This last emperor is venerated in the way we had just witnessed – and in others much more zealous or even fanatical – as a direct descendant of Amaterasu, Shinto goddess of the Sun and the Universe, accordingly, the highest earthly authority of this religion.
From the Imperial Capital of Kyoto, the Core of Edo and then Tokyo
For eleven centuries, Japanese emperors resided in Kyoto. From the middle of the XNUMXth century, the official residence – Kokyo – was moved to Edo Castle, in the heart of Tokyo.
Its main building was still in front of us, sheltered by inner walls, facing the Nijubashi Bridge, on top of a hill and among shady trees.
We see dozens of Japanese students dressed in black advance in line along the gravel.
Arriving at the bridge, they form with this backdrop as a background and a photographer, in the good Japanese manner armed with a tripod, registers the image of the young subjects for posterity.
Tokyo Central Station is not far away. depart from it all the time shinkansen bullet trains destined for the main cities of the country and equipped with a hostess for each carriage.
Meanwhile, a group of these workers in their elegant uniforms flock to the place for the same purpose as the students.
At the beginning of the XNUMXst century, these and other Japanese women were almost treated to a revolution in the ever-traditional Japanese gender relationship.
Japan's Imperial Palace Succession Crisis
At that time, Prince Akishino (second son of Akihito) remained the only male member born into the imperial family since 1965.
With the succession at risk, the Imperial House decided to form a council to consider the hypothesis of a woman can succeed the Emperor.
But in 2006, Akishino and the princess Kiko spawned a prince, Hisahito. Shortly thereafter, the board maintained that the succession should continue to be made in the male.
It turns out that Naruhito – the eldest and probable successor of the current emperor – has only one daughter. O that the Japanese will decide when the succession back to being in danger?