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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Shrine Rituals
Reisai
The annual taisai of a shrine, held on a day connected either to the enshrined deity or the origin of the shrine. The term reisai is comparatively recent. In ancient times this rite was distinguished from others held throughout the year by calling it the honorific ōmatsuri ('great festival') or onmatsuri, or by associating it directly with the shrine's name, as in Kasuga-sai, Kamo-sai, and Iwashimizu-sai. In illustrated guidebooks of the Edo period, the term reisai can be seen, suggesting that that the term was widespread by this time, that such festivals were understood to differ from others, and that reisai indicated a special matsuri. Under the Meiji shrine system the kinensai, niinamesai and other rites were defined as taisai, and ceremonies were held for emissaries (chokushi or heihaku kyōshinshi) to present tribute at shrines ranked at various shrines, from village shrines up through to the rank of Kanpeisha. The Reisai is held on a day that has a special connection to the inshrined deity or the origins of the shrine, and that day cannot be changed without reason. The reisai of some of the most prominent shrines are as follows: Kashihara Jingū (February 11), Kasuga Taisha (March 13), Katori Jingū (April 14), Heian Jingū (April 15), Ōmi Jingū (April 20), Izumo Taisha (May 14), Kamowake Ikazuchi Jinja and Kamo no Mioya Jinja (May 15), Atsuta Jingū (June 5), Hikawa Jinja (August 1), Kashima Jingū (September 1), Iwashimizu Hachimangū (September 15), and Meiji Jingū (November 3). The Grand Shrines of Ise does not have a designated reisai, but the kannamesai of October 17, with its close association with the enshrined deity, is probably its closest equivalent. Postwar, the system of offering tribute at shrines from public funds was abolished, but hōbeisai, in which an imperial emissary is dispatched from the imperial house to the shrines listed above, are still performed. Also, whilst the system of national tribute has been abolished, the Association of Shinto Shrines continues the tradition, by sending its own emissary and tribute (honchō hei). The Association also seeks to maintain respect for the days appointed for reisai. If the Association's approval is not secured, shrines may not unilaterally change the day of the rite.

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