When was the last time you saw an emperor?
All joking aside, there were some interesting things about this visit. First, nearly all of the road construction in our area for the past couple months was tied to this visit, and funded by the country rather than our prefecture. We appreciate it and some of those surfaces really needed it (as did the commuting schoolkids, who now have a sidewalk around a very dangerous corner), but it makes you wonder if his eminency is aware of ‘real’ life in Japan, if there is any such thing. On the other side of that coin, however, the empress gained huge respect in the country by insisting on raising her kids by herself as much as possible. To this end she had a kitchen installed which she could use, among many other things.
Second, even given the pair’s position, I thought that that the security surrounding the visit was pretty extreme. Hordes of police were brought in from around the country to stand in front of every business along the Emperor’s route (mostly they just told each and every customer what time the road would be closed, thought not even very clearly at that), and more were brought in to inspect all bridges, bushes, etc., along the route.
Were the hordes really necessary? I don’t want to get invaded by the Japanese secret police or anything, but if I really wanted to do anything harmful I don’t think it would have been too hard given the MO of the police. Can you really trust a man’s life to a group of people who can’t clearly explain that a road will be closed from x o’clock to y o’clock? Don’t know for sure, though–the security guard in the passenger seat of the main car looked like he was made from the same stuff as one of the Terminators.
Finally, we were a little sad that our local park has been closed for a few days getting ready for a visit by his eminenciness. As far as we can tell he actually did show up there today, but it was to a crowd of people who won an all-country lottery and met up at the local airport at 6 a.m. (serves them right?) to pass security and wait inside the park for the event. It would have been nice to have even a section in the nosebleeds reserved for local folk, but oh well.
I guess it was easy enough for us to line up on the side of the road to see them drive by.