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