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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Shrine Rituals
Shōsai
One type of shrine rite, this is a rite conducted on a small scale. Before 1945 these were specified under government regulation, and thereafter by the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja honchō) in the "Regulations of Shrine Observances." According to there regulations, the Association divides observances into major, middle, and minor rites. "The minor rites encompass all those not classified as major or middle" and the content of the category is quite diverse. The major and middle categories relate mainly to matters of public or national concern but the minor rites include all other shrine celebrations. The Jinja honchō manual "Shrine Rites" (Jinja saishiki) states that shōsai be carried out as follows: "Early in the morning, the shrine should be decorated. At the appointed time, the gūji, officials, and assembled worshippers (both local and visitors) proceed to the shrine (before this is the ritual hand-washing); next, the gūji, officials and worshippers all go to the "place of purification" (haraedokoro) and shubatsu is performed. Then they all move to the prescribed place where the rite is performed. The gūji prays once (and is followed by everyone assembled) and next, the gon-gūji or negi and lesser priests present offerings (shinsen) while music is played. Then the gūji recite a norito (everyone bows during this), followed by music. The gūji presents a tamagushi and bows, gon-gūji or negi and lesser priests priests bow along with them. Next the representative (sōdai) of the assembled worshippers presents a tamagushi, and the assembled worshippers bow them. Then the lesser priests remove the offerings (music plays during this). The gūji bows once (and all assembled follow suit) and then share a meal (naorai) at the naorai place, after which the worshippers depart." The main way in which shōsai differ from taisai and chūsai lies in the absence of rites accompanying the opening and closing of the sanctuary doors. The categorization of rites by scale into minor, middle and major rites originates in the Ritsuryō era where the terms taishi, chūshi, and shōshi are found. The rites that were categorized as minor in the Engishiki include ōimi, fūjin, chinka, saigusa, ainame, chinkon, chinka, michiae, sonokarakami, matsuo, hirano, kasuga, ōharano, and others. However, according to the Ordinance of Imperial Household Rites (kōshitsu saishirei) of 1908, rites are divided into minor and major rites. In the minor rites "The Emperor leads the Imperial Family and bureaucrats in performing the obeisances and then the official in charge performs the rite." These include the saitansai, kinensai, meijisetsusai, kashikodokoro onkagura, tenchōsetsusai, rites for the three preceding generations of emperors, rites for the previous empress, rites for the deceased dowager empress and rites for all the other emperors excluding the first, Jimmu.

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