Sunday morning. We were in Tokyo on our way to get one of Malcolm’s scrumptious creations at the Earl sandwich shop in Akasaka.
We were cruising comfortably along our usual route, but as we reached Uchibori Dori (Inner Moat Boulevard), we were caught in an unusual swarm of traffic.
Then I remembered — right after the emperor’s auspicious 80th birthday last December, his majesty announced that part of the palace grounds would be open to the public during the cherry blossom season.
This is the Japanese version of the forbidden city — commoners are let in only on New Year’s Day for the Imperial family’s annual greetings. This year it’s open the whole first week of April while the royal cherry blossoms are in bloom.
I heard today that the human chain we saw snaking its way all across the outer palace grounds carried about 200,000 loyal royal subjects who spent over two hours inching their way toward the royal court. Sunday was the peak. Other days the pilgrimage took just over one hour. We won’t know the total for the whole week until tomorrow. Since Kayoko has an appointment in Hibiya tomorrow, she will stroll across the park to see if the line is more accommodating.