Gearheads and imperial family enthusiasts got a close-up look Thursday at a specially built car that carried Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako in a parade earlier this month to commemorate the emperor’s enthronement.
The customized convertible version of Toyota Motor Corp.’s Century luxury sedan, painted in glossy black and equipped with a white leather interior, will be exhibited at the State Guesthouse in Tokyo until Jan. 5.
The government selected the car from a pool of options put forward by five automakers due to its safety features and minimal environmental impact. The height and angle of the car’s seats are adjustable to allow roadside well-wishers the best possible view of the imperial couple.
Visitors must pay an entrance fee of ¥300 to enter the guesthouse’s garden, where the car is displayed in a glass enclosure. University students and young children can enter the garden for free.
No reservations are required and the entrance fee will be waived on the first three days of the New Year, according to the Cabinet Office.
“I saw the parade on TV, but the real car exudes a certain dignity,” said Hiroko Hirota, 55, who came to see the car from Hyogo Prefecture.
The car, which was estimated to have cost around ¥80 million, including customization expenses, will also be displayed at the State Guesthouse in Kyoto from Jan. 9 to March 17.
The Cabinet Office plans to use the vehicle for various occasions, including another parade after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The parade was held on Nov. 10 to celebrate the emperor’s enthronement on May 1. About 120,000 flag-waving onlookers lined the 4.6-kilometer route from the Imperial Palace to the imperial couple’s residence in the Akasaka Estate in central Tokyo.
The parade was initially scheduled to take place Oct. 22 following the Sokuirei Seiden no Gi enthronement ceremony, where the emperor officially proclaimed his ascension before some 2,000 guests, but was postponed out of respect for the victims and emergency service personnel impacted by Typhoon Hagibis. The storm left nearly 100 people dead and flooded tens of thousands of homes in wide areas of the country.
On Thursday, the imperial couple visited the mausoleum of Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward to ceremonially report that they have finished a series of important imperial succession rituals, including the Daijosai rite on Nov. 14 and 15.