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; The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun via Getty as indicated

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 Royals Celebrate Emperor’s Birthday

Members of the Imperial royal family celebrated the Emperor’s 84th birthday on Saturday with an annual balcony appearance at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo where they greeted thousands of well wishers.

Dec 23, 2017 | Royal Hats

Crown Princess Masako wore a new bumper hat in deep maroon velvet scattered with tiny beads over the crown. The beads, which are repeated on the smocked Elizabethan style ruff collar on Masako’s dress, are not something we see on hat crowns – their use as trim here offers subtle textural contrast to the all velvet ensemble. The hat shape on its own isn’t terribly exciting but it balances well with a high collar and the colour… OH THE COLOUR. It’s not only perfect for this time of year and a fantastic backdrop for showing off jewels but just stunning Masako.

Dec 23, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new
Princess Kiko repeated the pale slate blue silk covered pillbox she first wore for the 2015 Imperial New Years lectures. The hat is trimmed with a back bow (visible here at its first outing) which makes it a little too twee for my liking, although the subtle placement of it on the diagonal to mix up the pattern between the dress and the hat is a nice touch. It’s classic Kiko- simple, pale and demure.

Dec 23, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: Jan 9, 2015; Dec 23, 2009
Princess Mako chose an ensemble in a more saturated shade of blue. Her coordinating hat repeated the silk and diamond beaded applique motif on the belt of her dress, giving some graphic punch to the monochrome ensemble. It looks like the hat was further finished with a twisted ruffle in the same silk and velvet on the side. We’ve not seen Mako in a calot shape and it works well with her sideswept hairstyle; the colour is also one she wears particularly well.  
Dec 23, 2017 | Royal Hats Dec 23, 2017 | Royal Hats
Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new
There are a handful of events each year that retain traditional court dress and it’s always fun to see royal women in the hats and gowns required by this dress code. Thoughts on the new hats we saw at this event?
Photos from Asahi Shimbun,Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun via Getty as indicated

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

Princess Mako Celebrates Birthday

On Monday, Princess Mako celebrated her 26th birthday and, as per tradition within the Imperial family, paid a visit to her grandparents at the Imperial Palace. For her meeting with the Emperor and Empress, she wore a bumper hat in sunny  yellow. The choice might not seem like a fashionable one to all but the colour is straight up happy and a lovely contrast against her dark hair.

 Oct 23, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: This hat is new
Much has been said in the media this year about the practice of Imperial princesses nearly disappearing from public view after marriage… hopefully, one of the positive freedoms that comes with Mako’s nuptials next year will be the ability to wear whatever she wishes. I often wonder what the young Imperial princesses really think of the traditional, conservative dress expected within the Imperial court.
Photos from Asahi

October Review: Week 3

Last week in royal hats was quieter than the first two weeks this month but still brought us a number of lovely designs. Here are are the royal hats worn between October 15 and 22:

Tuesday, October 17: Princess Nobuko attended the Murayama City Rose Festival in a repeated cream hat with navy hatband.

Oct 17, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 17, 2017 | Royal Hats

Tuesday, October 17: Princess Alexandra attended a Service of Celebration for the Centenary of Lady Margaret School at Westminster Abbey. She repeated her dark turquoise blue straw picture hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan with gold silk ruched overlay, trimmed with gold edged blue silk flowers. It’s a hat we’ve not seen since its first wearing at the Cambridge’s wedding in 2011.

Thursday, October 19: Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako attended the 70th anniversary ceremony of the Japanese junior high school education system. Princess Masako repeated a cream felt hat with upturned Kettle brim, simply trimmed with a hatband in the same rosy beige hue as her suit.

Oct 19, 2017 | Royal Hats

Thursday, October 19: Princess Yoko visited Toyama Prefecture October 18-19 to attend the 19th Hokuriku Welfare Golf Tournament. For the event, she repeated a yellow cloche hat with white, upfolded brim.

Oct 19, 2017 | Royal Hats

Thursday, October 19: Queen Elizabeth attended the 70th anniversary parade of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Hyde Park. She repeated the raspberry pink Rachel Trevor Morgan designed hat with sloped crown, pale grey and pink stacked hatbands and straw flowers with crystal centres we saw her debut earlier this summer.

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


Friday, October 20: The Imperial Family gathered to celebrate the Empress’ 83rd birthday. Crown Princess Masako repeated a pale blue silk jaquard hat with bumper hatband and rolled brim, Princess Kiko wore a brimless cream hat and Princess Mako wore a peach cuffed calot with side bow detail.

Oct 20, 2017 | Royal Hats

Oct 20, 2017 | Royal Hats  Oct 20, 2017 | Royal Hats

Friday, October 20: Princess Hisako of Takamado opened an exhibition at the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. She wore a striking new hat with cream crown and grey bumper brim, brimmed with feathers across the front.

Oct 20, 2017 | Royal Hats

Oct 20, 2017 | Royal Hats Oct 20, 2017 | Royal Hats

Saturday, October 21: Queen Elizabeth attended Champions Day at Ascot Races in her repeated pink felt hat with slim multi-wrap hatband and feather koosh on the side.

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

That, I believe, catches us up to today! Do any of these designs receive your nomination for top hats worn this month?

Photos from Asahi ShimbunSankei; News 24

Princess Mako Announces Engagement

Princess Mako formally announced her engagement to Mr. Kei Komuro, a lawyer she met  in 2012 while attending International Christian University in Tokyo.  Princess Mako arrived at the Imperial Palace in a pale turquoise calot hat with silk floral trim at the side that she removed for the press conference. It’s a typically demure design that while unexciting, is a lovely colour on the young princess.

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: This hat is new
The young couple is expected to marry sometime during the autumn of 2018. Princess Mako’s royal status will end with her marriage, although I suspect we’ll still see her from time to time at family events (as we do with her aunt, Sayako Kuroda and cousin, Noriko Senge)
Photos from Asahi and Asahi