Regular Feature

Greetings from the Outskirts of Kyoto vol.25

INOUE Shōichi (Director-General)
October 28, 2022

The other day, the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II took place in Britain. The event was broadcast live on Japanese television too. You may also have seen the hearse used in the service.

The sides and top of the rear of the hearse, in which the coffin was placed, were made of glass. Through the glass it was possible to see the queen’s coffin and the wreaths of condolence. The hearse was specially designed to make the coffin visible to the crowds along the route.

You would never see this in Japan. Indeed, some of the TV commentators expressed their surprise. I even heard


Illustration by Inoue Shōichi

 it suggested that this was the sign of a transparent monarchy.

Such a style of hearse is, however, quite common in Europe. Transparency is not unique to the monarchy. Ordinary people, too, are seen off in a similar hearses. 

Such a hearse would never be allowed on Japan’s streets. The transport authorities in Japan view the glass as too heavy for the car’s chassis, and would not permit its use. Here, in these sorts of concerns over safety, we can espy typical Japanese-style bureaucracy.