National

Foreign nationals fascinated by emperor's enthronement ceremony

Kyodo

A number of foreigners visited the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday to take in the atmosphere of Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony, despite tight security and bad weather, expressing fascination with Japan’s centuries-old tradition.

“The ceremony should be a (point of) pride for the Japanese. This is a symbol of Japanese unity,” said Ramesh Bhangay, 68, who came from India on holiday.

“We wanted to see (the ceremony) from the inside. That is why we came here originally,” said his son, Mithilesh Bhangay, 37, although people were not allowed to enter the palace for security reasons.

Alexandre Besse, a 28-year-old from France, said the ritual, in which the emperor officially proclaimed his enthronement before around 2,000 guests from home and abroad, represented Japanese “culture and history.”

“It is very different compared to our country,” Besse said. “We don’t have this kind of establishment after the king was gone because of the French Revolution.”

Anastasia Lebedinova, a Russian student living in Japan, said she hopes to make the role of the emperor more widely known when she returns to her country.

“I think this ceremony is important because the emperor is the country’s symbol. This is a graceful moment for Japan,” said Lebedinova, 22, who was on a visit to the capital with a Russian friend.

Frederikke Hansen, 22, a Danish student studying in Tokyo was told by her professor of the ceremony and decided to visit the palace.

“I came here to see what was happening but there are fewer people than I thought,” Hansen said, adding she was also hoping to see Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, who attended the ceremony with dignitaries from about 190 countries.

Hansen said she was also looking forward to seeing a motorcade, which was initially scheduled following the ceremony but was postponed to Nov. 10 in the wake of a deadly typhoon earlier this month.

“I read about this ceremony in the news before I came to Japan but didn’t know it was happening while we were here,” said Sean Zadarnowski, 34, who came from California with his mother for a holiday. “If it was in the United States it would be mayhem. Having no cars on the road and tranquility is unique in such a gigantic city.”

Javier Benito, 29, a vacationer from Spain, decided to visit the palace to get into the festive mood, while knowing he could not enter the grounds, as he had hoped to do before coming to Japan.

“I will come back and go inside. I feel a familiarity because we also have a monarchy in Spain. I think both figures (in Japan and Spain) are very traditional,” he said.

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