His Majesty's Birthday Receptions

Each year on 23 December, the following functions are held in celebration of the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor:

Congratulatory Ceremony

His Majesty the Emperor receives congratulations from His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince and the rest of the Imperial Family; the Prime Minister; the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the House of Councillors; and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Luncheon

Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress hold a birthday luncheon and invite the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President and Vice-President of the House of Councillors; Diet members; the Prime Minister; Ministers of State; the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court; other government officials with Imperial attestation (Ninshokan); Administrative Vice-Ministers of Ministries and Agencies and other leading figures of legislative, executive and judicial organs; and prefectural governors and representatives from all fields and their spouses. Birthday greetings are received and His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince and the rest of the Imperial Family are also in attendance.

Reception

Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress invite heads of the diplomatic missions in Japan and their spouses to a tea reception. Birthday greetings are received and His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince and the rest of the Imperial Family are also in attendance.

Visit of the General Public to the Palace for His Majesty's Birthday

People's visit to the Palace
for His Majesty's Birthday
(East Plaza, Imperial Palace)
(Photo: Imperial Household Agency)

His Majesty the Emperor receives congratulations from the people. In the morning Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress appear together several times. His Majesty the Emperor addresses the people. Visitors enter from the Main Gate and offer their good wishes in the East Plaza of the Imperial Palace. Due to the court functions none of the members of the Imperial Family appeared in the afternoon. Visitors enter from the Sakashita-mon Gate and sign the guest books in front of the Imperial Household Agency building or submit business cards.

- History -
Visits by the general public to offer congratulations on the Emperor's birthday at the Imperial Palace began on 29 April 1948. At the time, the celebration lasted from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Visitors entered from the Main Gate and left from the Sakashita-mon Gate after signing the visitors' books installed near the iron bridge inside the Main Gate. Although none of the members of the Imperial Family appeared, Emperor Showa did observe the scene of the visits from the roof of the Imperial Household Agency building.

On 29 April 1950, Emperor Showa and Empress Kojun appeared before visitors for the first time, on the balcony above the central entrance to the Imperial Household Agency.

Later, visits by the general public were temporarily suspended due to Imperial Palace construction. Since 1969, this ceremony has been held at the present Imperial Palace.

Number of the General Public Visitors to the Imperial Palace for His Majesty's Birthday

Years Number of Visitors
1989

Cancelled

1990

Cancelled

1991 17,420
1992 13,550
1993 20,140
1994 18,220
1995 13,350
1996

Cancelled

1997 9,280
1998 14,800
1999 17,567
2000 14,890
2001 16,760
Years Number of Visitors
2002 19,079
2003 18,848
2004 17,681
2005 17,558
2006 20,152
2007 15,602
2008 22,655
2009 30,560
2010 26,298
2011 24,789
2012 28,065
2013 28,945
  • In 1989 the general public visit to the Imperial Palace for His Majesty's Birthday was called off because of the demise of the Emperor Showa.
  • In 1990 the general public visit to the Imperial Palace for His Majesty's Birthday was called off because "Sokuirei-Ippan-Sanga"(Event for the Emperor to receive congratulations from the general public after the Enthronement Ceremony at the Imperial Palace.) was held on 18 November.
    The number of visitors to "Sokuirei-Ippan-Sanga" was 109,800.
  • In 1996 the congratulatory ceremony and the general public visit to the Imperial Palace for His Majesty's Birthday was called off because Japanese embassy hostage crisis began on 17 December 1996 in Peru.
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