During the visit of Japan’s Crown Prince Fushimi to England in 1907, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado was banned for six weeks by the Lord Chamberlain, who was concerned that its frivolous portrayal of the emperor would offend the Japanese—who had recently entered an alliance with the British. At the same time, British military bands were instructed not to play arrangements from the operetta although Japanese bands on Japanese ships in the Medway River were doing so.
The operetta had been presented once in Yokohama, Japan, under a different title, but was then banned in Japan until 1946, when it was produced by American occupation forces. Japanese reactions to the operetta had been mixed from its premiere; some Japanese dignitaries found the material grossly insulting, while others were not offended. Gilbert’s sources for his libretto included a Japanese exhibition held in London during 1884-1885, but he created a mythical Japan merely based on the concept of emperor worship, not intended to denigrate a revered being or his surrounding culture.