12 December 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Japanese Crown Princess Scroll Tiara

The Japanese Crown Princess Scroll Tiara
The Japanese tiara best known today as the diadem worn by Masako Owada during the events surrounding her wedding to Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito in 1993 played a previous role in another important imperial wedding: the 1959 marriage of Michiko Sh┼Źda to Crown Prince Akihito, today the Emperor and Empress, and Naruhito’s parents. The Japanese court isn’t exactly forthcoming about many tiara histories, but we can trace this tiara back at least that far.
Michiko (3, left) and Masako (2, right)
The tiaras worn by the Japanese imperial ladies are always made of white stones, mostly diamonds with some pearls, and this all diamond number is no exception. It’s a large diadem in an exaggerated scroll design, and – again like most other tiaras from this family – it is part of a parure, including a perfectly matched necklace.

Video: Masako with Naruhito, during the tiara-wearing portion of her wedding day. Click here for another look, also including video of Michiko wearing the tiara.
Empress Michiko wore it on her wedding day (the celebrations include traditional Japanese dress but also include parts in Western dress) and continued to wear it for events in the years following. When her eldest son married, she turned the set over to the new Crown Princess, so at least for now we have a bit of a Crown Princess tradition going. Masako began wearing it for her wedding celebrations and then continued to wear it at other tiara occasions, such as the annual New Year’s event and state banquets.

Video: Masako can be seen wearing the tiara at around 0:30 in this series of clips
Unfortunately, it’s been a number of years since we have seen the Crown Princess Scroll Tiara. We rarely see Masako in a tiara since she withdrew from much of her public life after she began suffering from what has been termed an “adjustment disorder,” popularly speculated to have been caused by the strict life of the Japanese imperial court and the intense pressure to produce a much-needed heir. (The couple welcomed a daughter, Aiko, eight years after their marriage, but only males are eligible to inherit the throne. Discussion of changing the policy halted when Naruhito’s brother, Prince Akishino, and his wife had a son.) We do occasionally see her arriving for the New Year’s event in the car, but for the past few years she has chosen her second tiara – a pearl-tipped fringe that was also worn by Michiko – for that job. Masako, who celebrated her 50th birthday this week, has been showing signs of improvement, notably traveling to the inauguration in the Netherlands earlier this year. So perhaps there is hope that we might see a full return of Masako, and this tiara, at some point in the future.

How do you rate this scroll tiara?

Photos: Imperial Household Agency/Corbis