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.
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.
Princess Nobuko of Mikasa wore the most interesting design of the event, a open crowned headpiece of large pink silk flowers. Her daughter, Princess Akiko, wore a smart cream hat with short brim. I believe both of these hats are new additions.
Princess Hisako of Takamado topped her high necked bright blue skirt and jacket with a matching hat trimmed in blue and white flowers, a wide hatband and white piping around the brim. Princess Tsuguko and Princess Ayako wore brimless designs in peach and pale seafoam green silk to match their respective gowns. I believe these three hats are new as well.