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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rites of the Ise Shrines
Kan'namesai (Grand Shrines of Ise)
This is the Grand Shrines of Ise's (Ise jingū) largest harvest festival of the year. The festival's history traces back to the legendary enshrinement of Amaterasu Ōmikami at the present location; during the reign of Emperor Suinin, when Princess Yamatohime-no-mikoto traveled in search of a place to enshrine the imperial ancestral deity, she presented as a sacred offering rice ears of eight-span palms length (yatsukahō) in the beak of a white-naped crane (manazuru). Regarded as one of the three seasonal festivals (sansetusai) of the year together with Along with the Tsukinamisai which is held in the sixth and twelfth months to present "noble sacred offerings" (yuki no ōmike), the festival is regarded as one of the three seasonal festivals (sansetsusai) of the year and this festival is also known colloquially as Ōmatsuri (grand festival) among local Ise residents. Kan-namesai was stipulated in the Taihō Codes as a "regular ceremony" (jōshi) of late autumn; in the Engishiki as a "lesser ceremony" (chūshi) (that requires requiring three days of ritual purification in advance); in the 1914 "Regulations on Ritual Observances at Jingū " (Jingū saishirei) as a major festival among "major festivals" (daisai); and in the 1908 "Imperial Household's Regulations on Ritual Observances" (Kōshitsu saishirei) as a "ceremony personally conducted by the emperor" (goshinsai) before the palace's Kashikodokoro shrine. Kan- namesai is a celebration for offering newly-harvested rice to Amaterasu Ōmikami. AIt is a harvest festival that precedes the Niinamesai festival held in the imperial palace and shrines throughout Japan, this festival and consists of solemn rituals to worship the imperial ancestral deity. The duratione of the festival initially corresponded to the legendary enshrinement of Amaterasu Ōmikami at Ise when "sacred offerings" (ōmike) were offered twice, between at dusk and dawn from of the 15th to 16th of the nine month at the Outer Shrine and from the 16th to 17th of the same month at the Inner Shrine. Next, an "imperial envoy" (chokushi) dispatched by the imperial family was received who conducted a ritual of offering silk and other materials (heihaku). However, Iin conjunction with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1873 4, however, the Kannamesai has been held since 1879 in the tenth month instead, because early-ripening rice does not ripen by the ninth month of the new solar calendar. In a sense, the annual festivals of this shrine are organized to culminate in the Kan-namesai. The Shinden geshusai festival in April heralds the "sowing of purified rice seeds" (yudane kudashi) and rice cultivation in Ise jingū's "sacred paddies" (shinden) in a ritual formerly called Kuwayama Igari shinji in ancient times, followed by the rice-transplanting ceremony (Otaue hajime) there in May which conforms to time-honored custom as well as the rice-harvesting ceremony (nuibosai) in early September. The rites concerning Ise jingū's sacred paddies (shinden no gi) are completed when the ripened ears of rice have been harvested and stored in the Mishine- no- mikura repositorygrainery. Finally, on October 15th, Kan-namesai opens with the Okitama shinsai and Miura ceremonies. According to an ancient precedent by which the Outer Shrine conducts the first part of the celebration, Outer Shrine Priests present a variety of yuki no ōmike is presented twice, between at dusk and dawn by Outer Shrine priests. In contrast to this, tThe next day, in contrast, Inner Shrine priests ritually prepare "sacrificial offerings" (minie) of sliced abalone dressed in salt. On the afternoon of the day commemorating Amaterasu Ōmikami's enshrinement, an imperial envoy is received who recites a prayer (saimon) and presents imperial heihaku offerings. That evening, a votive kagura performance is presented by shrine musicians and dancers to entertain the deity.

— Nakanishi Masayuki
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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