After 15 minutes of walking away from the Marunouchi 丸の内 exit of JR Tokyo Station, Japanese Flags are freely handed out outside the Main Gate 二重橋 Nijubashi of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. While most in Japan are closed from around December 29th to January 4th in preparation for the New Year, it’s an opportunity to immerse with the locals. Apparently, January 2nd is one of the two rare dates in a year when the Inner Gate 中門 Nakamon of the Tokyo Imperial Palace 皇居 Kokyo is open for the public to hear the Imperial Family wish them well for the New Year. Approaching the entrance revealed long queues of thousands of locals – and perhaps a few foreigners like us – waiting for their turn to have their bags inspected and be welcomed into the Inner Gate by the Imperial Guards. 45 minutes and a couple of photos around the inner palace grounds later, the Imperial Family appears behind the bullet-proof glass window of Chowaden Reception Hall 長和殿. The locals cheered and waved their flags as the New Year speech was delivered – in Nihongo of course. At 10:10, 11:00, 11:50, 13:30 and 14:20, five batches of eager visitors received the warm Imperial New Year’s greeting as they march towards the year ahead – head high and forward-looking.
More information for 2012 New Year’s Greeting: Click here.