What happens during the Japanese Enthronement Ceremony?

Japan will be grabbing the world’s attention next week again, not for the fear of what damage typhoon Hagibis will cause but to celebrate our Emperor’s Naruhito’s 即位礼正殿の儀 (Sokuirei Seiden no Gi or the Enthronement Ceremony) 🙌.

The centuries-old traditional ceremony passed down through the world’s oldest continuing hereditary monarch will be attended by Prince Charles who attended the previous Enthronement Ceremony as well as 👑 Kings and Queens from Belgium, Norway, The Netherlands, Bhutan and royals and leaders from over 190 countries (including our neighbours, South Korea).

Due to the effect of Typhoon Hagibis that killed at least 77 people and devastated many regions, the public parade around Tokyo is postponed to November 10. However, the main ceremonies will start on October 22nd 2019 (this date is a special one-off public holiday to celebrate this occasion 🎌).

Enthronement Ceremony

The old tradition is quite elaborate.

It starts with 即位礼当日賢所大前 (Kashikodokoro oomae), a ceremony where the emperor wearing a traditional white robe will announce to 天照大神 (Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, universe and the Shinto religion) that he will become the new Emperor of Japan.

The empress also gives respect followed by the remaining Japanese royal families and the Japanese prime minister, Abe Shinzo.

The second ceremony is held in the afternoon within the most prestigious room in the Imperial Palace, 松の間 (Matsu no ma or the Pine Hall) where the Emperor makes his commitment to his role in front of Abe Shinzo and the foreign royal and domestic guests.

Representing the people of Japan, Abe Shinzo gives 3 banzais to the new emperor 🙌🙌🙌.

During the second ceremony, the emperor stands on 1.3m high, 8 tonnes and 6.5m high structure along with the 2 of the 3 三種の神器 (Sanshu no jingi, Imperial Regalia of Japan):

  • the replica sword 草薙 (Kusanagi with the meaning of virtues)
  • the necklace 八尺瓊勾玉 (Yasakani no Magatama with the meaning of benevolence).

The third treasure is a mirror, 八咫の鏡 (Yata no mirror, with the meaning of wisdom) resting in a shrine in Mie prefecture.
In one article I read that 2 rice paddies from one special and healthy rice farmer from the western and eastern part of Japan are selected to produce special rice to make sake and rice for the ceremony that will become the offering to Ameterasu and for the Emperor to eat 🍚, followed by banquets and tea ceremonies.

Saying all this, most parts of the ceremonies are only privy to the Japanese royals and selected priests. One thing’s for certain; everything has a meaning and has been passed down for centuries.

This elaborate Enthronement Ceremony doesn’t come cheap with the entire enthronement celebration and ceremonies estimated to have costed Japan 16,600,000,000 yen or AUD$224 million (!!!!) for this year.

Let’s hope that the Rugby World Cup and the public holiday boost spending.


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