Imperial New Years Poetry Reading

Last Friday, the Emperor and Empress hosted Utakai Hajime, which translates as ‘First Poetry Reading’, a gathering at the Imperial Royal Palace at the beginning of each new year where participants read traditional Japanese poetry on a common theme before a wider audience. Like the New Years Lectures, the dress code for this event is Court Dress, giving us another opportunity to see the Imperial royal ladies (except the hostess, Empress Michiko) in gowns with hats.

Jan 12, 2018 | Royal Hats

Princess Kiko repeated a pale yellow hat with double bumper brim in the same pale yellow silk as her gown. Princess Mako topped her turquoise gown with a matching bumper hat trimmed with a bow at the back.

Jan 12, 2018 | Royal Hats

Designers: unknown
Princess Kiko’s hat was previously worn:Dec 23, 2012
Princess Mako’s hat was previously worn: Jan 11, 2017 and Dec 23, 2013

Princess Nobuko of Mikasa wore the most interesting design of the event, a open crowned headpiece of dusty pink tulle wrapped around a wide rim. Her daughter, Princess Akiko, wore a cream hat with pleated crown and short brim covered in the same silk jacquard as her gown. I believe both of these hats are new additions.

Jan 12, 2018 | Royal Hats

Princess Hisako of Takamado topped her high necked bright blue skirt and jacket with a matching hat with white brim, trimmed with a spray of blue and white flowers on the side. Princess Tsuguko wore a peach bumper hat trimmed with large abstract leaves in the same hue while Princess Ayako wore a brimless design in pale seafoam green silk to match her  gown. I believe these three hats are new as well.

Jan 12, 2018 | Royal Hats

Photos of this event are scarce which is such a pity as there are numerous hats that would greatly benefit with closer views. Princess Hanako, who usually brings the most daring millinery designs to these New Years events, did not attend and was certainly missed. From what we can see here, what hats stand out to you most?
Photos from ntv.co.jp; The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun via Getty as indicated
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Imperial New Years Lectures 2018

Yesterday, members of the Imperial Royal Family attended the Ceremony of Kosho Hajime (Imperial New Year’s Lectures)  at Imperial Palace in Tokyo. A tradition of royal enlightenment since 1869, these Imperial New Year’s Lectures saw experts in the field of human, social and natural sciences address the royal delegation in their respective fields. When the lectures began 149 years ago, the daytime dress code across royal courts for ladies reflected the prevailing Victorian fashions of the time- long gowns with hats. This event is one of a handful each year that maintains this dress code, giving us the rare opportunity to see hats with full length gowns.

Imperial Royal Family, Jan 10, 2018 | Royal Hats

Crown Princess Masako made her first appearance at this event in 15 years in a repeated Breton hat. Made of the same hint-of-blue silk jacquard as her gown, the hat features a pork pie style crown and characteristic rolled Breton brim.

Jan 10, 2018 | Royal Hats  Jan 10, 2018 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: Dec 9, 2014Dec 23, 2013; Dec 9 2010; Dec 23, 2009; Dec 9, 2006Dec 23, 2005

Princess Kiko topped her celery green gown with a matching capulet style hat that I believe is a new addition to her wardrobe. Following a classic capulet shape (a calot with extended front combined with a bumper brim around the front and sides of the piece), the hat is trimmed with a small back bow and covered in the same lace that adorns the top of Kiko’s gown. Princess Mako made her last appearance at this event in a repeated navy velvet, rounded edge pillbox hat trimmed with a bow on the side in the same blue silk as her gown.

Jan 10, 2018 | Royal Hats

Previously Worn: I believe Princess Kiko’s hat is new. Princess Mako wore this to this same event in 2016  

The Mikasa and Takamado princesses also attended this event. Princess Nobuko wore a wonderful pale green pillbox trimmed with a giant ivory silk flower that I believe is new. Princess Akiko repeated a pale pink silk calot trimmed with silk rosettes. Princess Yoko wore a majenta textured pillbox. Princess Hisako topped her elegant dove grey gown with a matching bumper hat with side feather trim that I believe is new. Pricess Tsuguko also went with a new design that looks to be a burgundy silk tam variation trimmed with flowers on the side. Princess Ayoko repeated her pale yellow silk jacquard gown and matching calot bandeau trimmed with silk flowers and leaves on each side.

Jan 10, 2018 | Royal Hats

These lectures always brings some millinery surprises and such is the case this year, even with a few repeated pieces. I missed seeing Princess Hanako, who always stands out at this event. What hats stand out to you here this year?

Imperial Royal Memorial and Tour

Last Friday, Princess Yuriko of Mikasa attended a service at Toshimagaoka Imperial Cemetery in Tokyo to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the death of her late husband, Prince Takahito. For this memorial, she wore a veiled black bumper hat.

Princess Yuriko, Oct 27, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Mako, Princesses Akiko and Yoko of Mikasa and Princesses Hisako, Tsuguko and Ayako of Takamado all wore veiled black bumper hats.

Oct 27, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 27, 2017 | Royal Hats

Oct 27, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 27, 2017 | Royal Hats

On October 29, Princess Akiko braved the rain in a repeated a white pillbox hat for the enshrinement of Prince Mikasa’s spirit at the Imperial Palace.

Oct 29, 2017 | Royal Hats

Over the weekend, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Fukuoka and Oita Prefectures. For a visit to a robotics innovation center on Saturday in Kitakyushu City, the Empress wore a large white (or cream? oyster?) domed saucer trimmed with a large bow that looked to be embroidered in a lattice pattern with metallic thread.

Oct 28, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown. Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: the bow seems new… who knows about the saucer. 

The focus of the visit, the 37th National Meeting for the Healthy Ocean, took place Sunday in Munakata City. Empress Michiko wore a smaller scale saucer in pale bluey-grey trimmed with a multi-looped silk bow that circled around the left side of the design. The sheen of the silk bow gave a bit of contrast to the hat, which was, I suspect, covered in the same fabric as Michiko’s suit and caped jacket. The shade of blue is more becoming on her than the dull grey we often see her wear.

Oct 29, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 29, 2017 | Royal Hats

Oct 29, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 29, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown. Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: I believe the hat is new

The visit concluded yesterday with a stop in Kitakyushu Eco-Town Center. Empress Michiko repeated a familiar hat for this leg of the visit, a denim blue saucer trimmed with an angular, flat folded blue and gold bow.

Oct 30, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 30, 2017 | Royal Hats

Oct 30, 2017 | Royal Hats 

Designer: unknown. Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: Oct 26; 2016; Sep 28, 2016Jan 29, 2016Oct 30, 2015May 21, 2015Apr 9, 2015
The last hat has made seven appearances during the past two years, leading me to wonder if the Empress’ larger saucer hats (like the first one) are repeated with interchangeable trims to coordinate with her attire. I seldom see them repeated as much as the blue hat… but perhaps, it is simply a favourite. What do you think of this group of hats?
Photos from Sankei; AsahiAsahi and Asahi via Getty; JijiAsahi; Asahi; Kyodo NewsKyodo News and Kyodo News via Getty; Sankei, Mainichi and Asahi

October Review: Week 2

A survey of all the hats we saw during the second week this month, October 8 to October 14:

Sunday, October 8: Queen Elizabeth attended Sunday Service at Krathie Kirk in a repeated turquoise straw hat with feather trim. The Duchess of Cornwall was also in attendance in her taupe beret percher with pheasant feather trim.

Oct 8, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 8, 2017 | Royal Hats

Monday, October 9: Queen Sonja attended the opening of parliament in Oslo in a repeated black felt cloche hat with upturned brim printed with diamond shapes on the underside.

Oct 9, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 9, 2017 | Royal Hats

Tuesday, October 10: Queen Máxima repeated her natural straw picture hat with upswept vertical ‘slice’ brim for her and the king’s first day of state visit to Portugal.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Tuesday, October 10: Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko of Akishino attended the closing of the National Sports Festival in Ehime. Princess Kiko wore what looks to be a new hat with wider than usual brim and pleated cafe-au-lait hued hatband.

Oct 10, 2017 | Royal Hats

Wednesday, October 11: Queen Máxima repeated a silk floral headpiece for Day 2 of the Dutch state visit to Portugal.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Wednesday, October 11: Prince Fumihito, Princess Kiko and Princess Hisako joined the Empeor and Empress for a memorial concert at the Imperial Palace. The princesses wore navy and black brimless hats.

Oct 11, 2017 | Royal Hats

Wednesday, October 11: Princess Akiko of Mikasa attended the 15th commendation ceremony of People’s Self-Defense Force Officers in a sharp navy trilby variation with upturned front brim and wide cream hatband. The same day, Crown Princess Masako attended a memorial in Tokyo for victums of industrial accidents. She wore a navy Breton hat.

Oct 11, 2017 | Royal Hats  

Thursday, October 12: Princess Beatrix attended the 250th anniversary celebration of the “Society for the Rescue of People from Drowning” in Amsterdam in a large burgundy straw bumper hat.

Oct 12, 2017 | Royal Hats  Oct 12, 2017 | Royal Hats

Thursday, October 12: Princess Astrid of Belgium joined the Duke of Cambridge for the New Zealand National Commemoration for the Battle of Passchendaele. Her repeated hat in black felt features a flat crown, wide cartwheel brim and slim hatband.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Thursday, October 12: Infanta Elena donned her trusty straw fedora for a National Day military parade in Madrid

Embed from Getty Images

Thursday, October 12:  Queen Máxima repeated a pale pink striped abacca headpiece with silk flowers for the final day of the Dutch state visit to Portugal

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Thursday, October 12: Princess Alexandra repeated her cream straw hat with domed crown, stacked straw hatbands, tulle veil wrap and feather trim to open a learning and development centre at Holy Cross Hospital in Haslemere.

Oct 12, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 12, 2017 | Royal Hats

Saturday, October 14: Princess Beatrix opened the renovated windmill “Googermolen” in Roelofarendsveen in a gold straw bumper hat.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

I’m curious- do any of these hats warrant, in your estimation, inclusion in our top hats of the month polls?
Photos from Abermedia, Vidar Ruud/NTB Scanpix; SankeiSankei; Sankei; Sankei; Belga

Imperial Royals Mark Passing of Princes

June 6 marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa. As per tradition, a ‘grave festival’ was held at Toshima Oka cemetery in Tokyo. The Imperial family was led at this event by the late Prince Tomohito and Princess Nobuko’s daughters Princess Akiko and Princess Yoko; their grandmother, Princess Yuriko of Mikasa, Crown Prince Naruhito, Prince and Princess Akishino were also in attendance with the women in veiled black bumper hats and the men in morning dress, carrying silk top hats.

Princess Akiko and Princess Yoko, June 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Akiko and Princess Yoko, June 6, 2017 | Royal Hats Princess Yurko of Mikasa, June 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Prince Naruhito, June 6, 2017 | Royal Hats Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko, June 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

The event was also attended by former princesses Mrs. Sayako Kuroda (Prince Naruhito’s sister, the former Princess Nori) and Mrs. Noriko Senge (former Princess Noriko of Takamado) who repeated the dress code of pale grey dresses topped with black veiled bumper hats.

Mrs. Sayako Kuroda and Mrs. Noriko Senge, June 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Today, a similar event was held at the same cemetery and shrine, this time to mark the third anniversary of the passing of Yoshihito, Prince Katsura. Similar black, veiled bumper hats were worn again for this event by Princess Yoriko of Mikasa (Prince Katura’s mother), Princess Kiko and Mrs. Sayako Kuroda. Again, Crown Prince Naruhito attended in morning dress, carrying a black silk top hat.

 Princess Yuriko of Mikasa, June 6, 2017 | Royal Hats Crown Prince Naruhito, June 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

 Princess Kiko, June 8, 2017 | Royal Hats Princess Kiko, June 8, 2017 | Royal Hats

Mrs. Sayako Kuroda, June 8, 2017 | Royal Hats

The attendance of Sayako Kurado and Noriko Senge at these events feels noteworthy. Since the 1947 Imperial Household Law, Japanese princesses have lost their royal status upon marriage – until recently, former princesses did not attend royal events and appeared to be completely cut off from their royal relations. While these were family events (and as such, follow different rules than official Imperial ones), Princess Mako’s upcoming engagement announcement has started chatter about revising this law to allow Imperial princesses to retain some of their status (especially with a single male in the current young generation). I can’t help but hope that the appearance of Sayako and Noriko this week is a sign that, at the very least, the inpterpretation of this law is starting to change.

Catching Up With The Imperial Royals

The Imperial royals have been busy over the past week, leaving us several hats to catch up. On April 20, Princess Akiko repeated her white cloche with upturned brim on a visit to the Mie Prefecture Museum. This design is a larger scale than many of Akiko’s other hats and works well on her.

Princess Akiko, April 20, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: July 22, 2015
Last Tuesday, April 26, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko commemorated the 100th anniversary of RIKEN, Japan’s largest research institute. The Empress repeated a pale blue saucer hat with raised rim around the back and a large, stacked, circular origami bow.
Empress Michiko, April 26, 2017 | Royal Hats
Empress Michiko, April 26, 2017 | Royal Hats
Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: October 29, 2016October 11, 2014May 16, 2012
On Wednesday, April 27, Prince Masahito and Princess Hanako of Hitachi attended the 35th Ueno Royal Museum Grand Prize award ceremony in Tokyo. Princess Hanako repeated her sage green silk covered hat with cloche shaped crown  and mushroom brim with lace overlay.
Princess Hanako, April 27, 2017 | Royal Hats
Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: November 13, 2015August 5, 2015; June 26, 2015; May 19, 2015
And finally, On Thursday, April 28, the Emperor and Empress presented the 11th Midori Academic Prize in Tokyo. Empress Michiko repeated her white saucer hat we first saw her wear during the Imperial couple’s tour of Vietnam in March this year. Like much of the Empress’ millinery, this hat is all about subtlety- a gently raised rim, transparent lattice underbrim, flat bow in ombre grey silk and monochrome silk anemone blossoms and leaves. On its own, the piece falls a little flat tonally but combined with Michiko’s ombre silk suit, it really works.
  Empress Michiko, April 28, 2017 | Royal Hats
Empress Michiko, April 28, 2017 | Royal Hats Empress Michiko, April 28, 2017 | Royal Hats
Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: March 3, 2017
Thoughts about this quartet of Imperial royal hats?
Photos from Line News, AsahiSankei; and The Asahi Shimbun via Getty

Wrapping Up Imperial Royal Tour

In the midst of a busy schedule of royal events over the past two weeks, I completely forgot to wrap up the Imperial visit to Thailand. My apologies!

On Sunday, March 5, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived in Thailand (see their departure from Vietnam earlier that day at this post). The Empress disembarked the flight in a new grey saucer hat with flat bow across the front, trimmed with a dotted black net tulle veil. The addition of the net veil is a trimming departure for the empress, one that gives a bit of textural contrast to the hat.

Empress Michiko, Mar 5, 2017 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko, Mar 5, 2017 | Royal Hats  Empress Michiko, Mar 5, 2017 | Royal Hats

After a quick 24-hour visit, the Imperial couple departed on Monday, March 6 to return home. For their departure, Empress Michiko wore her ninth new hat of the tour. The pale grey rimmed saucer hat is trimmed with a double looped half bow in the same darker grey silk as her dress. This design is not a departure from anything else we’ve seen on the Empress, although the balance between the saucer brim and the side bow is particularly pretty in this piece.

Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

The royal couple arrived home on the evening of Monday, March 6. The Empress disembarked the Japan airways jet in a repeated saucer hat in the same tiny black and white check as her coat, trimmed with a large curved bow.

Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats  Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: Designer: unknown
Previously Worn:March 18, 2016January 19, 2015

Most of the extended Imperial royal family greeted the Emperor and Empress at the airport. Crown Princess Masako wore a new black (or navy?) hat with upfolded velvet brim, edged in braid trim. Some of you may recall that she wore a green version of this same for the Emperor and Empress’ departure.

 Crown Princess Masako, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Crown Princess Masako, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Kiko,  Princess Kako both wore variations on bowler hats while Princess Mako repeated a navy cloche with upturned, short trim trimmed with a bow on the side. 

Imperial Royal Family, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Imperial Royal Family, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Hanako repeated a white cloche variation with short mushroom brim and wide grey ruched hatband. Princess Nobuko looked to be wearing a large navy saucer hat (worn at a wonderfully jaunty angle) while her daughters Princess Akiko wore a grey trilby with navy hatband and Princess Yoko sported a white design with short brim and tall crown. Princess Tsuguko of Takamado looked to be wearing her navy indented pillbox with back bow and Princess Ayako topped her camel coat with a matching hat that appears to be trimmed in a Lady Amherst pheasant feather.

Imperial Royal Family, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Several of you have commented about the tradition for extended Imperial family members to greet the Emperor and Empress at their departure and arrivals home- it is a lovely tradition and one that allows us to see lots of hats! Which designs here stand out most to you?

The Imperial Household Agency announced last week that the gruelling pace of this tour caused sickness for the Empress, who has now suspended engagements in order to recover. We wish her the very best in her return to health.