Goryosha is a car which is designed for the Japanese Emperor and the Imperial family.
Goryo' means the belongings of a noble person.
Goryosha is also called "Kiku no jidosha" (car of the chrysanthemum) and is often used for the reception of national guests, ceremonies of the Diet and visits to rural areas for contact between the Imperial family and citizens.
The characteristics of goryosha are the (Imperial) crest of the chrysanthemum placed where number plate is usually displayed, and near the rear door and the (hinged) double doors of front and rear doors.
Sometimes a red 'Emperor flag' with a gold crest is put on the hood.
Goryosha is driven by an exclusive chauffeur, but it is known that most Emperor and other Imperial families like cars and they drive a car (mostly Japanese car) by themselves in the premises of the Imperial Palace. In particular, a well known story is that Akishinonomiya Imperial Prince Fumihito has a Volkswagen Type 1 and drives it mainly in Karuizawa.
According to an aide in the Imperial Household Agency, 'his driving is careful and serious.'
There are chauffeur-driven cars for daily official business with normal number plate: TOYOTA Century for the Emperor and Empress, TOYOTA ALPHARD for the family of the royal prince and Nissan FUGA for the Akishinonomiya family (the car models vary).
History of Goryosha
It was 1912 that the first automobile goryosha was installed instead of carriage which has been used until then. The first goryosha was a Daimler Laundaulet imported from England. Daimler was introduced because of the fact that it was adopted by the British Royal Family as their first goryosha.
Rolls-Royce was introduced as the second goryosha in 1921. A convertible was adopted in 1990 and used in a parade performed after the enthronement ceremony of the present Emperor, then used in the wedding parade of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess performed in 1993.
Mercedes-Benz was introduced as the third goryosha in 1932. Just before the World War II, a British Rolls-Royce was removed in 1936 and Mercedes-Benz which was made in Germany, a friendly nation at the time, was adopted. It has been used until 1968, it ran all over Japan when Emperor Showa traveled throughout the country after the war.
A General Motors Cadillac was introduced as the fourth goryosha in 1951. When Japan was under American rule after the Pacific War ended, an American car was adopted.
Nissan Prince Royal was introduced as the fifth goryosha in 1967. It is known as a great car which was developed and manufactured by Prince Motor Corporation merged with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. later, it played a significant postwar role, for example, it was used for transportation of foreign dignitaries like Elizabeth Ⅱ of England, the Rites of an Imperial Funeral for Emperor Showa and the enthronement ceremony of the present Emperor. Still now, not TOYOTA Century to be described, but limousine type of Nissan Prince Royal is used for the important official business such as for the opening ceremony of the Diet, but it will be gradually replaced by a TOYOTA Century Royal after 2006 due to aging.
A TOYOTA Century was introduced as the sixth goryosha in 1989. Since Japanese cars dramatically improved in performance, Japanese largest automobile company, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION's best car, Century was adopted. It was the first sedan as goryosha and was used for daily official business such as when the Emperor traveled to rural areas.
A TOYOTA Century Royal was introduced as the seventh goryosha in 2006. The first one was delivered to the Imperial Household Agency in July 2006 and it was planned to be used for a memorial service for those who died in war on August 15, but in fact, it was used for the opening ceremony of extraordinary Diet on September 28 for the first time. Three other cars will gradually be delivered from now and it will in fact be four cars (including 1 sleeping car) in the end.
Currently, 10 goryosha are used: one Rolls-Royce (convertible type), five Prince Royals and four Centuries
Like rail cars, Goryosha are stored carefully and maintenance is performed before they are used.
Introduction years for each car model
Daimler (1913 - 1927)
Rolls-Royce (1921 - 1936, 1957 -), Rolls-Royce (convertible type) (1990 -)
Mercedes-Benz (1932 - 1968)
Cadillac (1951 - 1970)
Prince Royal (1967 -)
Century (1989 -), Century Royal (July 7, 2006 -)
The number plate for the goryosha is round and the diameter is around 10 centimeters, the base color is silver and a Chinese character "皇" and numbers are drawn in gold. The Road Transport Vehicle Law Article 11(2) stipulates that such number plate should be treated same as a general number plate. Because it has a number plate, a goryosha is also subjected to car safety inspections.