Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Japanese Emperor visits Chennai

Arrangement at the Ballroom of the Taj Coromandel on the occasion of the 80th birthday of the Emperor - by Malathi sensei
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko were in Japan last week, and sensei Malathi had the privilege and honour of being introduced to them on Dec 5th.

Here is her impressions of the meeting and the build up.

I had the privelege of interacting with their Imperial Majesties of Japan, Emperor Akhito and Empress Michiko at Taj on 5th December at 6.30 pm. I received an e-mail informing me that Mr. Krisnaswamy, Mr. Ranganathan, Sherry and I have been chosen to meet their Imperial Majesties and that there would be a Rehearsal to be announced later.

At the rehearsal, we were briefed about their Majesties by the ambassador of Japan to Dhaka, who is well versed with the South Asian culture and people. We were taken to the 'Chambers lounge' and were told that the Consulate in Chennai had already sent our biodata to the Imperial office at Tokyo and their Majesties have already read them and that we need not ask any questions of them, but they will ask for which we reply. 

We were shown how to bow before them, and also from where they will enter and where we stand to meet them. It was a serious reheasal, as our instructors played the role of their Majesties and the Consul General and did the introduction, and we answered in Japanese or in English. At that time we were also told that both of them speak excellent English and His Majesty has a fantastic memory. 

The order of our introduction was Mr. Krishnaswamy,  Mr. Ranganathan, then I and finally Sherry. The actual event took place exactly as per rehearsal, I was asked to be in traditional attire, (it made me self-conscious, a bit).  I did a 'namaste' with folded hands, but His Majesty extended his hand and we shook hands and gave such a broad smile, as if we had known each other for a long time. Her Majesty asked me how long I have studied ikebana, and how long have I been teaching. She then thanked me for the work I have been doing for the Consulate and very gracefully, gently requested me to continue doing so and finally thanked me once again. 

It was indeed a rare experience, to meet such charm and grace. 

Subsequent to this, we had the annual National Day celebrations of the Emperor's birthday on Dec 12th at the Taj once again, for which Malathi sensei chose the four triangle vases of the Sogetsu school, and created a wide, colourful and cheerful composition in the entry foyer.  The yellow chrysanthemum is very significant  for the Japanese royal family, and these were the focal point in a composition of chrysanthemums, ixora branches, baby's breath and boxwood.