Today I was invited to a birthday party – well, literally everyone was invited. The 23rd of December is Tenno Tanjoubi, The Emperor’s Birthday, and is one of only two days where you can enter the Imperial Palace and see the Emperor and his family.
They did hand out Japanese flags before the entry which could be returned afterwards. While there were many people it was nowhere as crowded as I expected it to be. The reason may be that the square before the balcony is big enough for quite a lot of people.
The Emperor appeared with his two sons, his wive and their wives. In his speech he also mentioned the current financial crisis and he wished everyone good health. Some people in the crowd seemed really enthusiastic about this event and shouted “Banzai! Banzai!”.
The next opportunity to see the Emperor is on the 2nd of January. Note that while it may not be crowded when entering the palace, it will be crowded when leaving…