Tokyo ( AsiaNews) - For the first time in Japanese history, the Imperial House has announced that it will be possible to visit the Palace where the royal family lives. The decision was made to celebrate the 80th birthday of Emperor Akihito, and according to some analysts, aims to "reconnect" the Japanese people to the Chrysanthemum Throne. The announcement has sparked public curiosity of the, which has "flooded" the agency that takes care of the Palace with calls, to get more details.
According to one employee, "with the exception of staff responsible for certain tasks, even we (Imperial Household Agency) staff rarely have the opportunity to see the inside of the palace," said one staffer, "so we can understand everyone's excitement." The first visits are scheduled for 24 and 25 May, and after and on a Saturday and a Sunday in early October. Fifty people will be let in per viewing applications will be accepted by postcard and will be placed in a lottery.. This is to avoid paying an entrance ticket - an act that would be considered "inconvenient" - and to limit favoritism on the part of the imperial staff as much as possible.
The construction of the palace - built on the ruins of Edo Castle - began in the Meiji period (late 1800s) . After the bombing of Tokyo in 1945, which destroyed the wooden buildings, typical of Japanese architecture, renovations began in 1964 and were completed four years later. The property covers an area of about 1.15 million square meters (see photo above) and includes the "Gosho" area, or the imperial apartments. Since 1968 it has been possible to visit the Oriental Garden, but no one has ever been allowed to enter inside.
According to some analysts, this decision represents another step forward taken by the imperial couple - Akihito and his wife Michiko - to "reconnect" the population to the figure of the emperor . The capitulation in World War II, the renunciation of the temporal power and the 1946 declaration on the "human nature of Emperor" profoundly changed the way the figure and the role of the Japanese leader . While he remains the most respected figure in the country, representing all citizens and is still considered to be a link with the world beyond, some fear that the death of the current Emperor would distance the people from his heir, Prince Naruhito .
The law can only be used for this emperor. In all probability it will be approved by parliament by the end of June. Naruhito's new era is expected to begin with 2019. The imperial family has few members and few male children.
In recent years, Japan has seen a sharp increase in the number of Muslim visitors and students (in particular from Malaysia and Indonesia). Historically Shinto and highly secularised, Japan is taking steps to provide more and more prayer facilities in commercial establishments and universities (e.g., Sophia and Rikkyo).