New foreign envoys to Japan on Wednesday took horse-drawn carriages to present their credentials to Emperor Naruhito, marking the resumption of the tradition that had been suspended for three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The incoming ambassadors made the roughly 1.5 kilometer journey from the front of Tokyo Station in the heart of the capital to the Imperial Palace in lacquered carriages decorated with chrysanthemum seals. The practice had been halted and cars had replaced carriages since March 2020 in order to avoid attracting crowds.
Many members of the public watched Wednesday's processions, which included Imperial Household Agency officials serving as coachman, wearing feathered hats and uniforms adored with gold chords.
Fiji's new ambassador was the first to set off from a square outside the station at around 10 a.m., followed by the incoming envoy from Pakistan.
"The classic uniforms and glamourous design of the carriages were very lovely and refined," said Mami Mitsumori, a 36-year-old resident of Hachioji, western Tokyo, who was among the spectators.
While envoys have the option to take cars to the palace to present their credentials to the emperor, going in a procession and escorted by horse-drawn carriage is the most popular choice.
The agency said it decided to revive the carriage processions in light of the resumptions of other imperial events this year, including the New Year's address by the emperor.