Japan’s imperial family latest royals to join Instagram

Japan's imperial family latest royals to join Instagram
Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress MasakoKUNAICHO_JP/INSTAGRAM

Millions of Chinese people revered Hirohito as a lifestyle god in 1926, the year the Chinese Emperor ascended to the Imperial throne.

Nearly 100 years later, Japan’s royal household- the world’s oldest continuing monarchy- is sporting a very unique look.

When he succeeded his parents five years ago, his nephew, Emperor Naruhito, had pledged to modernize the nation’s royal family.

And then, the royal family has taken a really significant step into the 21st Century: as of Monday, the home is on Instagram.

The shift comes some 15 years after Britain’s monarchs second made their social media releases.

” The]Japanese ] were perhaps the last notable royal family not to fully engage the digital era”, notes social media analyst Andrew Hughes.

But it was a decision that was expected. Given that these subjects are extremely only covered by their phones, the family would need to go online as well as make clear their desire to stay relevant and engage with younger generations.

But for those hoping to get a more traditional view into Imperial Family’s day- to- day lives, the 48- hour presence of the @kunaicho_jp account thus much might offend.

Bonsai flowers and lots of bowing

” When I heard]they ] created an Instagram, I quickly checked it out. But of course the king had n’t post’ today’s lunch ( heart emoji )’ or anything like that”, one fan wrote online.

In the 70 pictures and five videos uploaded across the kunaicho_jp]Imperial Household ] profile thus far, Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and their commonly adored only child, the 22- year- ancient Crown Princess Aiko feature strongly.

However, this is not a page that reveals personal notes, reflections, or even just more intimate photos of the royals.

The British Royal family and the Japanese royal family's instagram pages


The gallery’s current style is fairly formal, with royal duties only covering public appearances, visits to museums, earthquake sites, and meetings with royalty from other nations. There’s some bonsai and a lot of bowing. The Emperor and Empress are seated at a low table and smiling for the camera in a birthday celebration post.

Instagram influencers go to great lengths to curate the overall aesthetic of their grid so that potential new followers can be drawn to a cohesive, eye-catching, and definable brand in one glance.

The Japanese royals appear to possess one as well. a mashup of grey and beige.

” The account’s posts are extremely dull, the same kind of photos it shares in press releases”, says Jeffrey Hall, a Japanese studies lecturer at Kanda University.



The captions, written solely in Japanese, so far remain just factual recaps of the event shown in photos. Expect neither a casual first name sign-off nor any personal musings from the Emperor at this time.

And while they’ve taken advantage of the Stories feature, which is typically used by Instagram users to post sporadic flashes of life, it appears that the Imperial Household officials are merely using it to showcase the B-roll of event photos.

According to Mr. Hall,” I do n’t believe that the conservative IHA officials have any intention of providing their Instagram followers with an engaging or entertaining experience.”

Tightly controlled

Crucially, they’ve also turned the comments off- a trend emerging out of the corporate world, social media analysts note.

According to Mr. Hughes, who teaches advertising and marketing at the Australian National University, “it stops any brand damage from those platforming their own causes, hijacking of comments… and basically diluting the content and harming the brand.”

They may yet alter it, but I would n’t anticipate that because it would open a can of worms and because they have closely observed what happens from overseas royal families and royal families alike.

Although the Japanese royals may be making their online debut 15 years later than the Windsors, the controversy surrounding the recent photoshopped image of the Princess of Wales and her family would undoubtedly come to mind.

After all, this is a royal family, one whose Chrysanthemum throne rule and lineage date back as far back as the last ten years.

Expect a very specific and clingy story and content as the Japanese royal family wants to promote their traditional and safe brand image, says Mr. Hughes. ” There will be no ( Prince Harry’s autobiography ) Spare- style works emerging or any Photoshopped dramas”.

He notes too that the Japanese have a slightly different relationship with their royals- more reverential, more respectful.

They do n’t need to provide constant content at first; more a subtle brand reinforcement and reducing AI, disinformation, and misinformation by controlling what is released and discussed. For me, this is smart brand management”, says Mr Hughes.

And while there have been tabloid scandals in the past, the Imperial Household has worked hard to keep the Crown family safe; overall, the Japanese public still views them as morally upright role models.

The Japanese royal family sit at a banquet table


The family has long used traditional media channels, photography, newspapers and since the Meji period, TV programmes and weekly magazines to get their message across.

Masafumi Moden, a lecturer of Japanese studies at the Australian National University, points out that these media were frequently used to reinforce their positive but distant image rather than to make people more aware of it.

It seems with Instagram, the family are continuing that strategy.

Social media may encourage close encounters, but the Japanese royal family is content to keep things a secret.