Sunday, January 02, 2005

The non palatial palace...

Today was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky and just a few remnants of the snowfall from two days ago on the ground. January 2nd is one of two days in the year that you are able to enter the Imperial Palace. On January 2 the Emperor gives an address to all the people who wish to hear him outside his Palace.

I decided today, to become one of those many thousands of people to go and see the Emperor speak. I arrived at the Palace of approximately 1:30 p.m. I was subjected to a body search along with everybody else on the way into the Palace. Fortunately the policeman who patted me down did not discover the weapon of mass destruction I had hidden in my trousers.

Luckily I arrived in the forecourt of the Palace about one minute before the Emperor gave his speech. It was quite impressive as apparently on one of the routes to be Palace Japanese flags were distributed to all the people. The Emperor and some other members of the Royal family stood on a large glass balcony. Upon seeing the Emperor everyone duly waved their flags making a strange rustling noise. The Emperor spoke for about 20 to 30 seconds and I was unable to understand anything that he said although he did sound very distinguished.

Then it was expected that all people in the forecourt were to move on to make room for the next group of people. The
Royal Family makes a number of speeches throughout the day.

Upon leaving the Palace I took a long way round to view some of the parts of the Palace which are normally off limits to the general public. I was somewhat unimpressed with the grandeur of the buildings as it looked as though it was an administrative government office. It was a rather humble place for the Emperor to live (although I’m not sure that the Emperor does in fact live there, I’ve heard rumours that he lives in a hotel and there is also another Palace which the Emperor resides from time to time).

I would imagine that just about every policeman Tokyo was in the Palace grounds that the only trouble I saw was one person who while speaking on cellphone decided to walk against the flow of traffic he was quickly told that he had to follow everyone else on the way out. I don’t know if the palace guards have gastronomic nicknames like their counterparts in England?

While walking back home I took the photo of part of the Tokyo business area. The water in the foreground is the moat for the palace.


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