A New Flag for a Retired Emperor’s Ceremonial Visit

Society Imperial Family

During a formal visit to his ancestor’s grave, Emperor Emeritus Akihito displayed a new flag on his car that subtly indicates his retired status.

Crowds Gather in the Heat

People lined Tokyo streets on a sweltering early summer day hoping to see Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko.

The retired imperial couple made a visit on the morning of June 6 to Musashi Imperial Graveyard in the west of the capital to ceremonially report the news of Akihito’s abdication to his grandfather, Emperor Taishō, who is buried there.

In formal attire, Akihito climbed the stone steps and made an offering of a ceremonial branch at Emperor Taishō’s grave. Michiko also formally paid her respects.

Sign of a New Status

A special flag for the emperor emeritus was affixed to his car for the first time. While it displays the same imperial chrysanthemum as the flag for the emperor, it is a subtly darker shade of red.

The vermilion flag for the emperor (left) is somewhat lighter than the crimson flag for the emperor emeritus.
The vermilion flag for the emperor (left) is somewhat lighter than the crimson flag for the emperor emeritus.

Visits to the graves of Emperor Kōmei—the last emperor of the Edo period (1603–1868)—and Emperor Meiji in Kyoto on June 12 will conclude the ceremonies related to Akihito’s abdication.

(Originally broadcast in Japanese on FNN’s Live News It! on June 6, 2019. Translated and edited by Nippon.com.)

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