Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako waved and smiled from an open car in the Nov. 10 motorcade that passed through central Tokyo, marking his enthronement before tens of thousands of delighted well-wishers.
Security was extremely tight, with police setting up 40 checkpoints leading to the 4.6-kilometer-route from the Imperial Palace to the Akasaka imperial residence. Selfie sticks, bottles and banners — and even shouting — were not allowed inside the restricted zone.
Naruhito succeeded his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, on May 1 following his abdication the day before, and formally ascended the chrysanthemum throne in a palace ceremony in October.
The half-hour parade started from the Imperial Palace at 3 p.m. Naruhito, in a tailcoat decorated with medals, and Masako, wearing a long dress and tiara, waved from a Toyota Century convertible.
Naruhito responded to people cheering on both sides of packed sidewalks as the motorcade moved at a jogger’s speed. It was surrounded by a fleet of police outriders.
Masako, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated former diplomat who has been expanding the scope of her activities after years of struggling with a stress-linked illness, appeared teary-eyed at one point during the event.
The turnout was about 119,000 people — 2,000 more than the parade for Emperor Akihito’s enthronement in 1990. (AP, Kyodo)