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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Shrine Rituals
Hōbeisai
A rite of giving heihaku (offerings) to the kami, from the emperor or the nation. There are both customary and occasional versions of hōbeisai. The Jingiryō establishes nineteen annual hōbeisai, beginning with kinensai in spring. It also sets down that shrines should "hold separate ceremonies for the rites and also the fittings offered to the kami." All of the rites are separately regulated concerning the offerings (shinsen) and tribute (heihaku) that should be offered. In addition "On the the occaision of the Kinensai and Tsukinamisai the officials shall assemble at the Jingikan, where the Nakatomi shall recite norito and the Inbe shall apportion the tribute" and the tribute is to be presented to the shrines of the provinces and the rituals carried out. It is further stated that "in addition to these regularly scheduled rites, diviners of the fifth rank or above shall be dispatched to the various shrines with tribute." The regularly scheduled festivals mentioned here are the customary festivals below the kinensai and from this we can conclude that there officials were dispatched to shrines bearing tribute for other, occasional rites. According to the Engishiki, there were 3,132 shrines that received such tribute on the occasion of the kinensai. These shrines received different treatment in terms of offerings made, the style of offering, and the officials appointed to serve as emissaries. Of the 3,132 shrines receiving tribute, 492 were classified as major shrines, and 2,640 as lesser shrines. Of the major shrines 304 received tribute from a Jingikan emissary who placed the offerings on top of an offering table, while 188 received the tribute from the provincial governor. Of the lesser shrines, 433 received tribute from a Jinjikan emissary placing it beneath an offering table, while the remaining 2,207 received tribute from the provincial governor. Books 9 and 10 of the Engishiki, which record the names of the deities receiving tribute, are referred to as Jinmeichō. Book 3 of the Engishiki is concerned with regulations for occasional festivals, like the kiushiu (prayers for rain) such as Kamutoki no kami matsuri, Kamanari oshizumuru matsuri, and it specifies the deities who are to receive tribute. Gradually, the form of this system of tribute changed, and it died out during the medieval period. However, the spirit behind it did not wane but was revived in the shrine system established after the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji system adopted the terms hōbei and heihaku kyōshin. Under the Meiji system, all shrines from the rank of kanpei taisha down to village shrine received tribute from the imperial house and the national treasury on the occasions of their annual festivals, kinensai and niinamesai . Postwar, due to the separation of religion from state, the system of tribute from the state ended. The exception was the Grand Shrines of Ise, which continued to receive tribute from the Imperial household. For the reisai of its affiliated shrines, the tribute system was continued by the Association of Shinto Shrines.

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