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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » State Rites
Chinkon sai
"Settling of the soul ritual." A ritual of the ancient and medieval eras. Also called "mitama furi," "mitama shizume," "ō-mitama furi," "tama shizume no matsuri." According to the Explanations of the Prescriptions (Ryō no gige), the rite is intended to "call back" and "pacify" a soul that is trying to depart from someones body. The state ceremony (in other words the ceremony as codified under the Ritsuryō state) was used to strengthen the spirit-soul of the emperor before he performed the major rituals of Daijō sai and Niiname sai and was to take place on the "day of the lion" (tora) prior to those rites. First referred to in the "eleventh month, 685" entry of the Chronicles of Japan (Nihon shoki). Usually the rite was performed within the Imperial Household Ministry (Kunaishō) where a "landing place" (kamiza) for the deity was constructed. The ministers and lesser officials attended bearing the emperors clothes, while shrine virgins (mikannagi) and kagura-dancers (sarume) from the Department of Divinities (Jingikan) conducted the ceremony. This ceremony uses a special type of large vessel known as ukifunetsuki, which some say reflects the Ame-no-iwato legend, although contrary theories exist as to its significance. After the end of the Heian period, the buildings for the Department of the Imperial Household no longer existed and the ceremony was held where they once stood. The ritual was abolished in the fifteenth century and then revived in pre-modern times, though it no longer followed its original formula. It has taken place on palace grounds since the Meiji era. In the ancient and medieval eras, settling of the soul ceremonies were also performed for the junior empresses and crown prince.

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