The Imperial family is most commonly compared to the royal family of England. The Emperor used to control the country like a president but is now a figurehead. Twice a year the Imperial family makes an appearing to the public, on the Emperor's birthday and January 2nd, both of which we've never been in Japan for. With our early arrival to Japan we sieged the opportunity and took a trip up to Tokyo to see the family for our self!
Since we anticipated a large crowd we decided to embrace the Japanese way by forgoing the mammoth stroller and travel only with the SollyBaby Wrap and Toddler Tula. This was our first large outing without
Our train ride was about 70 minutes to Tokyo station during which Gabe stared out the window and Brenik slept in the wrap. Just getting off at Tokyo station was exciting in its own right because we've never been to the 100 year old station before! In terms of trains, it's the busiest station in Japan but as far as passengers go, it was very calm compared to the craziness of Shinagawa.
I'm not sure what we were expecting with going to the Imperial Palace. We knew we were going to walk the grounds that are closed all but two days of the year among thousands of other people and maybe get a glimpse at the Emperor and his family. The idea of the whole event felt a little odd to be honest but we were excited for the unknown.
After 4 trips to Japan for temporary duty we're still amazed by the orderliness of the Japanese. I mean, we push in line for samples at Costco, I think it is fair to say that it would be impossible for us to have a crowd of thousands form 15 single file lines; oh, and without pushing, cutting, and squabbling. We were handed flags, had our bags checked, were given a pat down and then off to walk the loop around the grounds.
It's times like these that I am actually thankful for my almost 6' tall stature, it pairs well with my claustrophobia in crazy packed crowds! I could hardly turn an inch or two in either direction without knocking someone with my backpack. All you could hear was the sound of shuffling feet because there wasn't even enough room to take a step. Did you catch that? Yes, I said all you could hear was the shuffling of feet! Thousands of people and nothing much more than a murmur.
Just after we crossed the bridge pictured above Brenik decided he was hungry, those babies always have impeccable timing. With
Gasp! Nursing in public! Yep, like I said, I was feeling like I had mad skills by pulling that one off.
I had no idea that we were actually going to have the opportunity to see the Emperor and his family. The picture below doesn't give this impression but I felt as if we had a relatively close position to seeing the Imperial family. The crowd hushed, mounted their phones on their selfie sticks, the Imperial family began to appear and the crowd abrupt in the sound of paper flag waving.
The people waved flags, quieted, the emperor spoke, the crowd waved flags, a few people in the very back chanted a bit, more flag waving and with that it was all over. The family was present no more than a few minutes, I didn't understand single word being said, yet I had tears in my eyes. Blame it on the hormones that were amped up due to nursing though it all but there was something touching about the whole experience of seeing the respect of the people for their emperor, his family, the country.
We shuffled out just as quietly as we came in. Some moved forward to wait a few hours until the next appearance the family was making that day, we opted to continue with the flow of people heading out of the palace grounds.
We tossed around the idea of hanging out in Tokyo a bit longer but between the cold weather and not caring to baby wear for much longer we called it a day but not before I flashed then entire train car... Yep, totally pulled Brenik out of the wrap, handed him to Chris and removed the wrap all while forgetting that I was nursing earlier. Since I didn't make eye contact with anyone afterwards it didn't actually happen, right?