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State Rites


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Ainame sai

Also called ainie no matsuri or ainbe no matsuri. In ancient times, this festival was held at select shrines several days prior to the niinamesai festival to celebrate the new harvest. The first documentary mention of the term occurs in Nihonshoki in Emperor Tenmus reign, fifth year, in the third...

Chinka sai (hana shizume matsuri)

"Rite to appease the kami of the bloom." Also called "hana shizume matsuri." One of the rites prescribed in the Jingiryō. In ancient times, the Department of Divinities would go to Ōmiwa and Sai shrines in Yamato province and the give offerings to the shrine attendants at each in order to...

Chinka sai (hi/ho shizume no matsuri)

"Rite for Appeasing the Fire kami." Also called "hi/ho shizume no matsuri." Recorded in the Jingiryō as one of the so-called rituals of the Ritsuryō Shinto system. The Ryō no gike records the festival as a fire-prevention rite, but some maintain that it was intended more to prevent f...

Chinkon sai

"Settling of the soul ritual." A ritual of the ancient and medieval eras. Also called "mitama furi," "mitama shizume," "ō-mitama furi," "tama shizume no matsuri." According to the Explanations of the Prescriptions (Ryō no gige), the rite is intended to "call back" and "pacify" a soul that...

Chōga

  "New Year's Felicitations to the emperor." In ancient times these characters were read "mikado ogami." In the ancient Japan, it was a state ceremony carried out at the Daigoku Hall with the participation of the many ministry officials. From the mid-Heian period (ca. tenth century) throu...

Daijōsai

A ceremony of state accompanying a new emperor's accession to the throne, it has received great emphasis since ancient times, and is held as one of the most important among the various rites associated with accession. Also called the Daijōe and the Senso daijō sai. Its origin is in the ni...

Fūjin sai

"Wind Deities Festival." A festival of the ancient and medieval eras. Also called Tatsuta Wind Deities Festival. Often referred to collectively together with the Hirose Ōimi Festival (Ōimi sai) as the "Hirose-Tatsuta Festival." A ritual praying for a good harvest and the proper weather co...

Hanpei

  "Distribution of ritual offerings." In the ancient era, the distribution of alms by the Department of Divinities (Jingikan) to officially designated shrines prior to state observances. The alms were used as the ritual offerings to their enshrined deities during the observances. Its firs...

Kan'namesai

A rite at the Ise Shrines celebrating the imperial lineages divine ancestry by offering first fruits to Amaterasu Ōmikami on the seventeenth day of the tenth month; the harvest festival of those shrines. On the day of the festival, a ceremony of worship from afar (yōhai) is perform...

Kanmisosai

A major rite of the Ise shrines, performed only at Kōtaijingū and Aramatsuri no Miya, during which either garments (mi-so) of light weave (nigitae) or of heavy weave (aratae) are offered to the kami on the fourteenth day of the fifth (May) and tenth (October) months, respectively—t...

Kigensetsu

A holiday and ritual observed from the beginning of Meiji until just after the end of World War II to commemorate the founding of the nation through Emperor Jinmu's legendary ascension to the throne. The rite observed at the palace's three ritual halls is called Kigensetsu sai, while the holiday is...

Kinensai

A regular observance during the Ritsuryō nation, also called toshigoi no matsuri. It ranks alongside the Tsukinamisai (of the sixth and twelfth months) and the Niinamesai (of the eleventh month) as one of the most important of the time, as shown by the relatively large amount of imperial tribu...

Meiji setsu

"Meiji Emperor Observance." A national holiday from the beginning of the Showa era to just after the end of World War II, celebrated on the Meiji Emperors birthday to commemorate his virtues. In 1927, at the behest of the Imperial Diet, the Meiji Emperors birthday, November 3 (by the old calend...

Michiae no matsuri

  Regaling [the gods] in the Streets Festival." A ceremony performed in the ancient period, as stipulated by the Divinities Prescriptions (Jingiryō). Intended to prevent evil spirits such as demons and disease-causing deities (ekishin) from entering the capital, it was therefore perf...

Niiname sai

Literally, "Celebrations of the First Taste," niiname sai refers to the set of harvest festivals in November carried out at the imperial palace and shrines throughout the country. Complements the Kinen sai, a rite involving prayers for a healthy crop and held in on the fourth day of the second mont...

Ō imi no matsuri

A festival of the ancient and medieval eras conducted at the shrine Hirose Jinja by a court-dispatched ritualist in order to celebrate its kami and the various "mountain-entrance kami" (yamaguchi-gami) of Yamato's six districts. Performed twice annually in the fourth and seventh months to pray for ...

Ōharae

A rite performed in the ancient and medieval periods. Its purpose was to ward off disaster by cleansing oneself of sins and pollution (kegare) accumulated unknowingly. The Jingiryō outlines two forms of ōharae. The first is the customary biannual rite performed on the last day of the sixt...

Ōtono hogai

A court ritual directed to the three kami Yafunekukunochi no Mikoto, Yafune toyouke hime no Mikoto, and Ōmiyanome no Mikoto intended to rid the palace from disasters. It was performed on various occasions, including: the daijōsai (the first niinamesai celebration performed by a new emper...

Saigusa no matsuri

  A rite conducted in ancient times during the fourth month at the Isagawa Shrine, a subshrine of the Ōmiwa Jinja. It appears in the Jingiryō and hence is an rite of the Ritsuryō ritual system. The name is said to derive from the use of a saigusa flower (a mountain lily; or...

Shidaisetsu

A comprehensive term for the four main national holidays of the prewar period: New Years, Kigensetsu, Tenchōsetsu, and Meijisetsu, After the Meiji restoration observances such as shihōhai, chōga, shinnen enkai were amalgamated into a protracted New Year's celebration, to which the n...



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