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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Shrine Rituals
Taisai
One division of shrine rites, these are rites to do with major festivals. From the Meiji era, these observances were specified under government ordinance, but since 1945 they have been specified in the Association of Shinto Shrines (jinja honchō) in the Regulation of Shrine observances (Jinja saishi kitei). According to this, taisai are divided into reisai, kinensai, niinamesai, shikinensai, chinzasai, senzasai, gōshisai, bunshisai, and rites based on special shrine traditions. The standard for taisai is set by rites having a public character and a long history, such as those involving moving the symbol of deity, an observance with a deep connection to the shrine or an observance with a special origin or tradition at the shrine. The instructions for such rites are set out in the Jinja saishiki, which specifies in detail how the rites are to be conducted. The system of categorizing rites by their content and size go back to the Ritsuryō period. According to the Jingiryō code for shrine rites, "Rites governing an entire month be called taishi, while those that last for three days are called chūshi, and those for one day are called shōshi." The rites are differentiated by the length of the period of abstinence that must be performed before it. The only large-scale rite specified is the daijōsai for imperial succession, codified in the Engishiki, and this is because of its especially weighty meaning. In the Ordinance of Imperial Household Rites (kōshitsu saishi rei) of 1908, observances are divided into major (taisai) or minor ( shōsai) rites. In the Taisai "The Emperor leads the Imperial Family and bureaucrats in performing the rites properly" and include genshisai, kigensetsu, spring and autumn kōreisai, spring and autumn shindensai, Jinmu Tennōsai, kannamesai, niinamesai, senteisai (rites for the immediate past Emperor), rites for the previous three generations of Emperors, rites for the preceding empress and rites for the immediate past dowager Empress. The daijōsai, which takes places as part of the Imperial coronation is (sokui) is not set out in the kōshitsu saishirei, but instead in the Ordinance governing ascension to the throne (toukyokurei). As this is a very important rite that occurs only once each Imperial reign, it is placed in a category by itself in this ordinance.

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