FAQ

The Imperial Family

  • Q. Where is His Majesty the Emperor in the chronological list of emperors?
  • A. His Majesty is the 125th Emperor.
  • Q. What kinds of affairs of state does His Majesty the Emperor have?
  • A. For the people of Japan, His Majesty the Emperor carries out those affairs of state delineated in the Japanese Constitution in accordance with the advice and approval of the Cabinet. Some of the affairs of state are appointing the Prime Minister as designated by the Diet; appointing the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court as designated by the Cabinet; attestation of the appointment and dismissal of Ministers of State and other officials; convocation of the Diet; promulgation of constitutional amendments, laws, cabinet orders and treaties; awarding of honors; attestation of credentials of ambassadors and ministers; and receiving foreign ambassadors and ministers.
  • Q. How far does the Imperial family extend?
  • A. The Imperial family means the lineage of the emperor. The Imperial House Law defines the extent of the Imperial Family as the Empress, the Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, Shinno (Prince), the consorts of Shinno, Naishinno (Princess), O (Prince), the consorts of O, and Jo-o (Princess).
  • Q. Tell me about the activities of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress.
  • A. Their activities include official duties and public activities at the Imperial Palace, official visits in Japan and fostering friendly relations with other countries. The activities are explained on the respective pages.
  • Q. Tell me about the kinds of major ceremonies that have been held thus far?
  • A. Major ceremonies held since the enactment of the Constitution of Japan include the investiture of the Crown Prince, coming-of-age celebration for the Crown Prince, wedding of the Crown Prince, funeral service for the emperor, funeral service of Emperor Showa, ceremony of enthronement, and ceremonies regarding the first ceremonial offering of rice by the newly-enthroned Emperor.
  • Q. Tell me about the budgetary system for the Imperial Family.
  • A. The budget of the Imperial Household Agency roughly consists of the expenses for the Imperial Family and the expenses of the Imperial Household Agency. The expenses for the Imperial Family are personal expenses, palace-related expenses and allowances for members of the Imperial Family. The personal expenses are spent by His Majesty and inner court members of the Imperial Family in their daily life and activities. Palace-related expenses are used for the Imperial Family's official duties, including ceremonies, state banquets, receptions, and domestic and overseas visits. These expenses also include those for the management and maintenance of the facilities of the Imperial Palace and other properties. The allowance for Imperial Family members is for the Imperial Family to maintain a life style that befits its position.
    The inner court members of the Imperial Family
    Currently, the inner court of the Imperial family are Her Majesty the Empress, Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, and Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko.
  • Q. How often do Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress visit other countries?
  • A. Since accession to the throne, Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress have visited 32 countries. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, as well as other members of the Imperial Family, pay visits to other countries to foster friendly relations with these countries through meetings with Heads of State and other people from various sectors, as well as visiting various places in each country.

The Imperial Palace and other Imperial Household Establishments

  • Q. What kinds of establishments are in the Imperial Palace?
  • A. The Imperial Palace includes the Imperial Residence where Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress live; the Imperial Palace, where various functions are conducted; the Imperial Household Agency buildings; Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery; Toukagakudo (Imperial Concert Hall); and the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.
  • Q. What is the Imperial Palace like?
  • A. The Imperial Palace has traditional Japanese architectural beauty and a large roof, pillars and beams. The palace is a steel-framed two story building with an underground floor and an inclined roof with long overhanging eaves. The palace includes the Seiden (Main Building) and six wings (Homei-Den, Rensui, Chowa-Den, Chigusa-no-Ma and Chidori-no-Ma and others) with a total floor space of 22,949 square meters. The palace was completed in October in 1968 and was used starting in April of the following year.
  • Q. On what occasions is Imperial Palace used?
  • A. Various activities are held in the Imperial Palace. Some of these activities are the New Year greeting, Imperial investiture, Ceremony of the Presentation of Credentials, Ceremony of Imperial Conferment of Decoration, luncheons, dinners and audiences.
  • Q. Are there establishments that relate to the Imperial family other than the Imperial Palace?
  • A. Other than the Imperial Palace, the imperial establishments include the grounds of the Akasaka Estate, Imperial villas, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Katsura Imperial Villa, Shugakuin Imperial Villa, Shosoin and Ryobo (mausolea and tombs), Goryo Bokujo (Imperial Stock Farm) and Kamoba (Imperial Wild Duck Preserves).
  • Q. Can we visit the Imperial Palace?
  • A. The East Gardens are open to the public without fee to the extent that the public does not impact activities at the Imperial Palace. To attend the guided tours, advance application is required.
  • Q. What are the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace like?
  • A. The East Gardens are on the east side of the Imperial Palace and have an area of 210,000 square meters. In accordance with Cabinet decision on January 29 in 1960, the area east of the Imperial Palace, where Honmaru, Ninomaru, and Sannomaru of Edo castle used to be located, the eastern part is developed as the gardens for the Imperial Palace, as a part of the construction plan for the Imperial Palace. The construction began in 1961 and was completed in September in 1968. The East Gardens have been open to the public since September 1 in 1968. The goal is for the public to have access but not to impinge on the activities in the Imperial Palace.
  • Q. What flowers can we see in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace?
  • A. In the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, you can enjoy an assortment of trees and flowers. Check the Flower Info page to know what kinds of flowers are in bloom.
  • Q. Where is Haruka no Himawari (Haruka's sunflower) planted?
  • A. The seeds were planted near the Honmaru concession in the East Gardens, and they bloom around July or August every year.
    Haruka no Himawari
    In the Great Earthquake on the morning of January 17 in 1995, Haruka Kato, a sixth grade elementary student in Kobe, died. When a huge sunflower bloomed at the place where her house had been in the summer that year, Haruka's neighbors named it Haruka no Himawari (Haruka's sunflower). Since then they have hoped that the sunflower seeds would spread to other places in Japan so that Haruka's sunflower would bloom there. In January in 2005, when Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress visited Kobe to attend the 10th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, as representative of the bereaved families, elementary school students presented the seeds to Their Majesties. Their Majesties then planted the seeds in the garden at the Imperial Palace. The seeds from the students that were given to the Imperial Household Agency are the origin of this sunflower.
  • Q. What is Sannomaru Shozokan (The Museum of the Imperial Collections) like?
  • A. Sannomaru Shozokan (The Museum of the Imperial Collections) was built in September in 1992 in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace and opened on November 3 the following year. The museum is for preserving, studying and exhibiting the art collections. These collections include paintings, calligraphy, and artifacts handed down from generation to generation in the Imperial Family, which were donated to Japan in June in 1989. Sannomaru Shozokan (The Museum of the Imperial Collections) currently owns approximately 9,500 items of art. These items include the bequeathed collections of the late Princess Chichibu, which were added in October in 1996; the late Empress Kojun's belongings, which were added in April in 2001; and the bequeathed collections of the late Princess Takamatsu, which were added in October in 2005.
  • Q. What exhibition does Sannomaru Shozokan (Museum of the Imperial Collections) currently have?
  • A. Sannomaru Shozokan periodically has exhibitions. The information on the current exhibition is posted on the Sannomaru Shozokan page.

Kyoto Imperial Palace and other Imperial Palaces and Villas in Kyoto

  • Q. What kinds of establishments are at Kyoto Imperial Palace?
  • A. Kyoto Imperial Palace has a long, distinguished history, and explains what emperors' lives were like in ancient times. The current palace was reconstructed in Ansei 2 (1855). Palaces at Kyoto include the Shishinden, Seiryoden, Kogosho, Ogakumonsho, and Otsune-goten. Gates at the palace include Kenrei-mon, Gishu-mon, Kenshun-mon, and Seisho-mon.
  • Q. Can we visit Kyoto Imperial Palace?
  • A. The Kyoto Imperial Palace offers guided tours. Advance application is required. On the special open days every spring and autumn, the Kyoto Imperial Palace is open to the public for about 5 days. You can visit the palace when information about the schedule and the route of the tour is posted on the Website, which will be as soon as the schedule is decided. No advance applications are required for a visit on the special open days.
  • Q. Other than Kyoto Imperial Palace, are there other establishments in Kyoto that we can visit?
  • A. For the Imperial House-related establishments other than Kyoto Imperial Palace, there are Sento Imperial Palace, Katsura Imperial Villa, and Shugakuin Imperial Villa. These are open to the public. For details on application, see the Visit Guide.
  • Q. Tell me how to access Kyoto Imperial Palace and other establishments.
  • A. The access information for Kyoto Imperial Palace, Sento Imperial Palace, Katsura Imperial Villa, and Shugakuin Imperial Villa is posted on the Visit Guide. Click "Information" on the link and check the "Traffic Access."
  • Q. Where do I ask questions about visits?
  • A. If you have any questions about your visit, open the Visit Guide, click "Help" and consult the FAQ page. If you have other questions, contact the Kyoto office of the Imperial Household Agency for visiting the Kyoto Imperial Palace and villas: 075-211-1215 (Imperial Household Agency, Kyoto office)

The Imperial Household Agency

  • Q. What kinds of duties does the Imperial Household Agency have?
  • A. The Imperial Household Agency, as a government organization under the prime minister, manages state matters concerning the Imperial House. In addition, among the Emperor's acts in matters of state as stipulated in Article 7 of the Constitution of Japan, the agency assists His Majesty in receiving foreign ambassadors and ministers and performing ceremonial functions. The agency also keeps the Privy Seal and State Seal.
  • Q. What is the organizational structure of the Imperial Household Agency like?
  • A. The Agency is headed by the Grand Steward. The agency has internal subdivisions and local branch offices. For details, see the Organization and Functions of the Imperial Household Agency page.
  • Q. How many people work for the Imperial Household Agency?
  • A. As of the end of 2012 fiscal year, the total number of employees in the Imperial Household Agency was 1,016, including both regular and special service personnel.
  • Q. Is the Imperial Household Agency currently recruiting personnel?
  • A. The Imperial Household Agency recruits personnel by interviewing people who passed the National Public Service Recruitment Examination (Grade 2, Grade 3) given by the National Personnel Authority. The information on other recruitments is posted on the Recruitment page.
  • Q. What is the budget of the Imperial Household Agency like?
  • A. The budget for the Imperial Household Agency consists roughly of the expenses for the Imperial Family and the expenses for the agency itself. For information on the expenses for the Imperial Family, see the Budgetary Matters page. The expenses for the Imperial Household Agency include personnel and operations for running the Imperial Household Agency.