ROYAL HOLIDAYS - This summer, Emmanuel Duteil makes us discover each Sunday the life of the royal families. Fifth stage: Japan, country of traditions, where the new emperor Naruhito faces many challenges.


There are countries that have kings and those who have emperors. The best known of them is obviously Japan, a country with ancestral traditions. Traditions, culture and landscapes that seduce more and more French: they are 300,000 to have gone to the Land of the Rising Sun in 2018, twice more than eight years ago. In Tokyo, despite the striking modernity of the capital, it is impossible to escape the imperial regime.

Slow modernization of a very formal monarchy

Main symbol of the Emperor of Japan: Kokyo, the imperial palace, located in Tokyo. It is a state in the state: this complex is bigger than the Principality of Monaco! Most of the palace is not accessible to the public. The interior is open only two days a year: the day of the birthday of the emperor, the 23 of February, and the 2 of January for the New year. Everything is regulated to the millimeter because the life of the imperial family is extremely codified. Protocol and tradition are extremely cumbersome.


Things are changing very, very slowly. The former Emperor Akihito and his wife have tried, by small touches, to evolve this straitjacket so rigorous. They went to the bedside of their people for example after Fukushima, they shook hands. It may seem anecdotal but there, it was a small revolution. In the same way as his abdication in April, which created a real earthquake. It must be said that, traditionally, the Japanese emperors remain in office until their death. But at age 85 and after 30 years of rule, Akihito was tired of the task. It is his son Naruhito, who is very like him, who took over the torch of the imperial dynasty.

An imperial couple facing the weight of tradition

The new emperor intends to continue the modernization undertaken by his father but it will be slow. Upon ascending the throne, he opened the Reiwa era, "the beautiful harmony". Each kingdom is indeed associated with an era. But that does not change the throne of Chrysanthemum, a symbol of the current imperial lineage that happens to be the oldest monarchy in the world. The advantage of Naruhito is that he is still relatively young, he just turned 59 years old.


The emperor is married to Masako Owada, an extremely talented diplomat, polyglot but who was partly destroyed by the weight of the Japanese monarchy. She chained depressions to the point of not being able to appear in public for years or so. She had a hard time accepting not to have a boy. The imperial couple has only one daughter. And this is a huge stress because in Japan the power is transmitted only from man to man. Fortunately, Naruhito's brother had a boy who will soon be 13 years old.

Since she was empress, Masako has assumed her obligations. She was there for example, in June, for the official visit of the couple Macron. Even when she does not show up, Masako is busy. She is in charge of the Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery, a sericulture farm located in the park of the imperial palace. She must personally watch the respect of silk production, much sought after in Japan.


All summer, discover the crowned heads on Europe 1:

>> In Denmark , a very French royal family

>> In Bhutan , a young royal couple for an Instagram monarchy

>> In Thailand , a rigid monarchy but a king adept of escapades

>> In the Netherlands , a royal family of bon vivants

>> Luxembourg , the last Grand Duchy still in place

>> In Jordan , a King Star Trek fan and an influential queen