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Home » 3. Institutions and Administrative Practices » Ancient
Nonomiya
Literally, the "Palace in the Fields," the Nonomiya was where the saiō, the abstinent princess, stayed for one year before she went to serve the Deity of Ise as the saigū. After the accession (sokui) of a tennō, the newly selected princess (either the daughter, sister, or granddaughter of a tennō) first entered the Shosaiin (Hall of Initial Abstinence), a residence within the royal palace precincts to begin her purification (kessai). Afterwards, she moved to the Nonomiya and continued her abstinence there until her departure to Ise. The origin of the Nonomiya can be traced back to the seventh century. The Nihon shoki (Chronicles of Japan) records the following event in the second year of Tenmu's reign (673): "[The sovereign] wished to have Princess Ōki attend the Shrine of Amaterasu, and made her stay in the Hatsuse Saigū. She was to purify herself first and to approach the deity by and by." The Engishiki (Procedures of the Engi Era), compiled in the Heian period, specifies detailed procedures concerning the Nonomiya. Chapter Five of the Engishiki discusses the matters related to the consecrated princess, and states that the Nonomiya was built in an untainted location determined by divination; on an auspicious day (also determined by divination), the princess underwent a ritual lustration (misogi) in the river before entering the building. Her period of abstinence (monoimi) in the Nonomiya was mandated to begin in the eighth month and to last for one year. Although the design of the building was rather simple, more than one hundred attendants and officials served within its precincts. The Nonomiya disappears from record after the saiō system was discontinued during the reign of GoDaigo Tennō in the fourteenth century. The term Nonomiya also refers to the Saiin (Murasakinoin), which was the palace for the consecrated princess who served the Kamo Shrines.
See also Saigū

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