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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » State Rites
Tenchō setsu
"Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth." The old name for the emperors birthday deriving from a similar observance in Tang China. It was a religious holiday from the early Meiji era to just after World War II. The ceremony performed at the Three Sacred Halls (kyūchū sanden) is called the tenchōsai, or Rite for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth (though in the Prescriptions of the Imperial House Rituals the rite itself ranks among the shōsai, or Minor Rites) while the holiday (shukujitsu) is called the Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth. The first known observance celebrating the birth of the emperor was a banquet held by the many court officials in 775 in honor of the Kōnin Emperor. The first actual Tenchō setsu was instituted during the Meiji restoration and occurred on September 22, 1868 (by the corrected calendar November 3) and has continued henceforth pattered on it. On the day of the celebration, the tenchōsai is performed in the Three Sacred Halls, and the Rituals for the Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth (tenchōsetsu no gi) are performed at the palace. The emperor receives felicitations from the imperial family then goes to the Toyo-no-akari Hall where he receives felicitations from high-level ministers and ambassadors or representatives from each country. Following this, there is a celebratory banquet. This celebration, together with New Years and the Observance of Era Change (Kigen setsu), comprise the Three Great Observances, or sandaisetsu (In 1927, Meiji setsu was also included, thus becoming the "Four Great Observances," or shi dai setsu). Anniversary celebrations are held throughout the countrys elementary schools and by various groups. Emperor Taishōs Tenchō setsu was August 31 (though it had been fixed as October 31 since the original date fell during the summer holiday season). Emperor Shōwas Tenchō setsu was April 29. In 1948, in compliance with the "Laws of Religious Days for the Citizenry," the Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth was renamed the Emperors Birthday. The current Heisei emperors birthday is December 23. Emperor Shōwas birthday was renamed "Green Day" and has been a national holiday since 1990.

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