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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Daily Life
Nenjū gyōji
"Annual events," a general term for the communal events that are held by people at the same time every year. Many of these observances have religious elements and even today not a few of them have a close connection to Shintō, such as hatsumōde, setsubun, and so forth. The term nenjū gyōji seems to have been used for the first time in the title of the "Nenjū gyōji go shōji" from the time of Emperor Kōkō in the latter half of the 9th century. Originally it referred to the customary observances of the imperial court. These were also called saiji, etc. These events can be broadly divided into those that were centered around the court and warrior families and those that were commonly held on a wider scale. In one theory a distinction is made between these two; the former are called kōbu nenjū gyōji ("annual events of the court and the warriors") and the latter minkan nenjū gyōji or minzoku nenjū gyōji ("annual events of the folk"). Among the nenjū gyōji are many events that have been adopted from China, but when they came into wide use, they had already been transformed and adapted to the culture and the rhythm of production in Japan. Above all they became closely connected to agricultural rites. Many think that the nenjū gyōji of the court were formed from the 7th to the 8th century. State rites such as ki'nensai, chinkasai, kanmisosai, and chinkonsai were extremely numerous in ancient times and also comprised part of the nenjū gyōji. In the late Heian period forms also became gradually fixed and were handed down as the yūsoku kojitsu ("ancient court and military practices and usages"). The nenjū gyōji of the warrior families also descend from these. The nenjū gyōji of the common people are closely connected to the characteristics of different regions and various social groups. Consequently, the differences between cities, agricultural villages, mountain villages, fishing villages, and so on caused distinctions to arise in especially popular festivals. In addition, since the solar calendar came into use after 1873, some events are no longer in tune with the seasons.
See also §Life-cycle Rituals and Occupational Rituals

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