Tokyo: Japan's new Emperor Naruhito on Tuesday began a series of ritual-bound ceremonies that complete his ascension to the ancient Chrysanthemum throne. Heavy rain pounded Tokyo's lavish imperial palace as hundreds of guests gathered for the once-in-a-generation event.
A powerful typhoon that raked Japan earlier this month, which killed dozens, forced the cancellation of a huge parade, but the day was set to be filled with the pomp and tradition of a royal dynasty that claims more than 2,000 years of history.
Naruhito officially assumed his duties as emperor on May 1, the day after his father became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries. But the transition is not complete until his new role is officially proclaimed, in a string of events expected to be attended by foreign dignitaries from over 180 countries.
The festivities have been scaled back in the wake of devastating Typhoon Hagibis, which slammed into Japan just over a week ago, killing more than 80. With people still searching for missing loved ones and living in shelters, the government has postponed until November 10 an open-top car parade to introduce the royal pair to the public.
But the rest of the day's ceremonies are going ahead as planned, and Naruhito began the day by "reporting" the proclamation to deities and his ancestors in the ancient royal dynasty.
Dressed in a voluminous white robe and a rarely seen black hat complete with a tail extending up 60cm (two feet) at the back of his head, he moved between three "sanctuaries" on the palace grounds, trailed by attendants.
A small group of guests, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, other cabinet members and royal relatives including Crown Prince Akishino, attended the ceremony. Later Tuesday, the emperor and his wife Empress Masako will appear at the day's main event in the Imperial Palace's Pine Room.
Naruhito, in a ceremonial outfit dominated by a draped outer robe in copper -- a colour worn only by the emperor -- will declare his enthronement from the "Takamikura" throne....