Master of Ceremonies (Japan)

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The Master of Ceremonies or more properly Grand Master of the Ceremonies, in modern governments of Japan, designates the chief administrator charged with ceremonial matters relating to the Imperial House of Japan. Under the current government system, he has been called the Shikibu-kanchō (式部官長?) who heads the Board of the Ceremonies, Imperial Household Agency (宮内庁式部職 Kunaichō Shikibu shoku?). However, the post has historically gone under different Japanese names.

Current government[edit]

The Grand Master of the Ceremonies has two Vice-Grand Masters of the Ceremonies (式部副長 Shikibu fukuchō?) serving under him. One of them has "purview over ceremonial matters" (儀式総括 gishiki sōkatsu?), while the other has "purview over foreign related matters" (外事総括 gaiji sōkatsu?).[1]

The first Vice-Grand Master of the Ceremonies has subordinate "officials of ceremonies" (式官 shikikan?) underneath him, variously charged with ceremonial rites, music, and hunting parties at the duck netting preserves (鴨場 kamoba?). It is the Board of the Ceremonies's The Music Department (楽部 gakubu?), which performs both gagaku (雅楽?), i.e. ancient court music, and Western classical music.[1]

The other Vice-Grand Master of the Ceremonies is charged foreign matters, i.e., with assisting in coordinating various court functions held for visiting foreign dignitaries. He is also responsible for such activities as the Imperial Family's State visits to foreign countries.[1]

The hunting parties at the kamoba preserves invites guests to participate in traditional wild-duck netting, where the wildfowl are tagged. It should be mentioned that the guests invited to the netting are often diplomatic missions and plenipotentiaries from foreign countries, although cabinet members, members of the National Diet, and Supreme Court Justices are extended invitations also.[2]


Grand Masters of the Ceremonies in office[edit]

Below is the historic list of men who filled the office (1947~current).

Number Name Term in Office Remarks
Grand Master of Ceremonies (式部頭 Shikibu no kami?)
Matsudaira Yasumasa (松平康昌?) Mar 27, 1947 – May 2, 1947 Granted shinninkan (ja) status.[a]
May 3, 1947 – May 31, 1949
Grand Masters of Ceremonies (式部官長 Shikibu kanchō?)
1 Matsudaira Yasumasa Jun 1, 1949 – Jan 4, 1957 (died in office)
2 Harada Ken (原田健?) Feb 1, 1957 – Sep 10, 1968 (resigned)
3 Shigenobu Shima (島重信?) Sep 10, 1968 – Jan 16, 1973 (resigned)[3]
4 Morio Yukawa (湯川盛夫?) January 16, 1973 – August 14, 1979 (resigned)
5 Isao Abe (安倍勲?) Aug 14, 1979 – Jun 20, 1989 (resigned)
6 Kiyoshi Sumiya (角谷清?) Jun 20, 1989 – Sep 8, 1995 (resigned)
7 Makoto Watanabe (渡邉允?) Sep 8, 1995 – Dec 12, 1996
8 Yoshio Karita (苅田吉夫?) Dec 12, 1996 – Jul 8, 2003 (resigned)
9 Yutaka Kawashima (川島裕?) Jul 8, 2003 – Jun 15, 2007
10 Koichi Haraguchi (原口幸市?) Jun 15, 2007 – Oct 4, 2009 (died in office)
(Takashi Koezuka (肥塚隆?)) Oct 8, 2009 – Oct 20, 2009 Acting GM (Vice-GM)
11 Takekazu Kawamura (河村武和?) Oct 20, 2009 – Sep 1, 2012 (resigned)
12 Nobutake Onoda (小田野展丈?) Sep 1, 2012 –

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ A shinninkan" is the highest ranked official, appointed by the emperor, higher in status than chokuninkan appointed by imperial edict/decree.


  1. ^ a b c Imperial Household Agency. "Organization and Functions". Retrieved Mar 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help) / 宮内庁 (Imperial Household Agency). "組織・所掌事務 (Soshiki / Shoshōjimu)" (in Japanese). Retrieved Mar 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help) (Wordings are not exactly identical.)
  2. ^ 宮内庁 (Imperial Household Agency). "鴨の捕獲・鴨場の接遇 (Kamo no hokaku · kamoba no setsugū)" (in Japanese). Retrieved Mar 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help) (Wordings are not exactly identical.)
  3. ^ The International Who's Who 1992–93. Taylor&Francis. 1992. p. 1490. ISBN 0-946653-84-4. 


External links[edit]