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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Shrine Rituals
Zassai
Zassai are all kami rites not bound by the regulations. The term means "myriad or various festivals" and the word is similar to Zōka (which is a collection of assorted, unrelated Tanka in the Manyōshū). Also referred to as varied festivals (shosai). In the era of state control of shrines, shrine rites were governed by the "Regulation governing lesser shrines" (Kankokuheisha-ika-jinja-saishirei) which was an Imperial edict, but in the postwar era, taisai, chūsai, shōsai and other rituals are regulater by the "Rites Regulations" (saishi kitei) of the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja honcho). All rites other than those stipulated in these regulations are Zassai. Concretely, these include life cycle rites, construction rites, annual calendrical rites, and a wide variety of miscellaneous rites. Among the life cycle rites are those for safe childbirth, naming rites, rites for a newborn child's first presentation to a shrine (hatsumiyamōde), the presentation of children at shrines in their third, fifth and seventh years (shichi-go-san), a life aim festival (risshi-sai), coming of age rites, weddings, rites to ward off negative astrological influences (yaku-yoke), rites to celebrate reaching an advanced age (sangasai), Shinto funerals (shinsōsai), ancestral rites(soreisai) and others. Construction rites include ground purification rites (jichinsai) rites for laying a foundation (teisosai), a ceremonial roof-raising (jōtōsai), and constructing a shrine.
       There are many minor rites involved in the regular shrine rebuilding, or Shikinen sengū at The Grand Shrines of Ise, ranging from the original tree-felling to the progress of the construction. These include the yamaguchisai, konomotosai, misoma hajimesai, mifunashirosai, kozukuri hajimesai, chinjisai, ritchūsai, gogyōsai, jōtōsai, nokitsukesai, irakasai, mitosai, mifunashiro hōnōsai, araikiyome, shin-nomihashirahōken, kozukisai, and gomonsai.
       Many rites are concerned with construction and shipbuilding, such as for the completion of a bridge (watarihajime), completion of a road or railway (kaitsūshiki), for the laying down of the keel of a ship, the completion of a waterway, and rites to install a protective deity on a ship. Among calendrical rites are the traditional start of spring (setsubun sai), hatsu-umasai, chinowa-shinji (ōharae shiki), jūgoyasai, osusuharai-jinjii, and others. Among rites related to rice cultivation, there are rites to purify a field (suiden-kiyoharai), planting dry crops (hanshusai), rice planting (tauesai), rice harvesting (nuibosai) and others. Rites to pray for traffic safety and safety in the home that are conducted at shrines are also included in zassai. The ceremonies for performing zassai are called zassaishiki. Different practices and traditions for performing these rites prevail in different regions and shrines but while respecting tradition, these are gradually becoming similar. Shrine rites generally have as their purpose to pray for the peace and safety of the realm, but zassai usually are concerned with individuals or households.

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