||As you entered the Kantei through the main
gate, there was a front courtyard. In the center of this front courtyard was a
green space in which, cycads, Japanese sago palms, were planted.
These trees were the first things on which visitors to the Kantei generally
cast their eyes, and as such, they had become the symbol of the entrance to the
The cycad is a plant that is usually accustomed to a warm climate. Therefore,
in December the cycads at the Kantei were bound in their "winter clothes,"
or rather covered in straw matting. The covering of the cycads, was the poetic
harbinger of winter for the Kantei.
Other than visiting cars stopping at the entrance, the front courtyard of the
Kantei was usually a quiet and peaceful area. This area however, became
a hive of activity on days such as the formation of a new Cabinet or the reshuffling
of an incumbent Cabinet. New Cabinet ministers were called to the Kantei,
and the mass media pitched tents in the front courtyard and stood by with all
their equipment to snap the new Cabinet members. When this happened, the front
garden was crammed with tents, and, as such, was renamed "tent village."
On these occasions, the regal old cycads might feel a bit cramped themselves.