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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » State Rites
Daijōsai
A ceremony of state accompanying a new emperor's accession to the throne, it has received great emphasis since ancient times, and is held as one of the most important among the various rites associated with accession. Also called the Daijōe and the Senso daijō sai. Its origin is in the niinaesai harvest festivals that existed prior to the Taika reforms (i.e., prior to the mid seventh century). Its procedures became fixed at that period of reform aiming to unify the provinces. After the accession of a new emperor, new rice harvested from designated sacred rice fields (cultivated by local growers) lying to the "auspicious east" (yuki) and "auspicious west" (suki) of the capital (as identified through plastromantic divination) was brought to the capital on the festival day (under the old system, the second "day of the rabbit") of the eleventh lunar month. This rice was brought into the Daijō palace (a temporary structure specially built for and razed after the ceremony) where, after the emperor performs a period of self-purification through various abstinences (saikai) and personally makes an offering (shinsen) of the sacred rice to the kami, partakes of it himself. After the sacred rites there is a large-scale concert.
    Under the old system, the Daijō sai was designated the preeminent festival, accompanied by one month of purifying prohibitions. There are a number of theories as to which deity was the object of worship (saijin) in the ceremony. Many believe that originally it was the emperor's ancestor, Amaterasu, alone. Later, it seems that the entire pantheon of kami ( tenjinchigi ) were included in the worship.
    The form of the ceremony changed, depending on the historical era. It died out during the warring states period but was revived in the Edo period. Its modern form was fixed by the 1909 "Tōkyoku Prescriptions." The first Daijō sai under the current constitution, that of the Heisei emperor in 1990, took those prescriptions as its basic referent.

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