With this fresh in my mind, I visited Kyoto, my home town, and was amazed at just how much Japanese tradition is organized around the Emperor. The Emperor went though various levels of influence in the governing of the nation, but has remained in place for 125 generations. Regardless of his level of influence, the Emperor has been the center of most of Japanese culture. Kyoto, for instance, is divided into the "Right Kyoto" and the "Left Kyoto". This has nothing to do with East or West, but is the right or left side of the city when viewed from the Emperor. The bullet train "climbs" from Kyoto to Tokyo (the new capital) toward the Emperor and any road that points away from the Emperor is pointed "down". All kinds of symbols and names allow you to understand exactly what each Temple's relationship to the royal family is. Maybe it was just our guide, or maybe it was that I was sensitized, but I think he talked about the Emperor in almost every explanation he made.
I question whether we should still have an Emperor in Japan and I believe that the facts about the Emperor's involvement in the war should be more publicly known. However, I wonder how the cultural foundation of Japan will change if the Emperor and the royal family were removed.
I have Flickr'ed the trip.
UPDATE: Related Article - Sanji-Chion-Ji