Last week, Somemaru went to the Imperial Palace for a conveyance ceremony, to receive the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon. He wrote about the experience in his blog. The following is my translation of his post.
Granted an Audience with His Majesty! (November 14, 2012)
The Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon conveyance ceremony was held on the 13th. At 11am, recipients lined up in a banquet room at the Josui Kaikan and, one by one, we received certificates and medals from the Vice-Minister of Education. To my right was Miura Tomokazu, to my left Yuki Saori. Sitting in front of me was Uchimura Kôhei. Sitting in the midst of people such as these, it felt like a dream. After the ceremony we were served lunch and, at 1:15, it was at last time to head for the Imperial Palace. As our bus entered the Sakashitamon Gate, we found there were already a number of other buses parked inside, and many people in formal dress. Today wasn’t a day for the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon alone, but for various people being honored with medals and decorations to receive an audience with His Majesty, the Emperor. Spouses and others were also in attendance, so there was an amazing number of people. There must have been ten large buses used to transport everyone. Following the directions we heard projected over loudspeakers, we entered the Palace. We had about one hour to wait, so anybody who needed to use the restroom was encouraged to go. I proceeded to a restroom located in a corner garden. I suppose this is the kind of place one could find a bunch of men in morning coats lined up taking care of their business.
At 2:30, a voice echoed in the hall, so we lined up and moved further into the Palace. We were lead into the grand Shunjûnoma Hall. A brilliant chandelier hung from a tall ceiling, and the carpet was soft and fluffy. It was tough to stand firm in one place, but, since this wasn’t the place to fall weak, I braced my legs and stood firm. We were instructed on the proper way to receive His Majesty, and, at last, there he was before us. He had a truly gentle smile. We received from him words of congratulations and appreciation. He had a kind voice. At this moment, I once again felt the weight of the medal pinned to my chest. I felt humbled.
Following this, we took a commemorative photo, piled into the bus and left the Palace grounds. This day was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that my wife and I will always treasure.