Sunday 25 August 2019

Japanese emperor reports to Shinto gods a week after succession

Naruhito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, the day after his father Akihito abdicated.

(Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP)
(Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP)

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito has performed a Shinto ritual at the palace to report to imperial family gods the plans for the main ceremonies of his succession later this year.

Naruhito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, the day after his father Akihito abdicated.

Naruhito, wearing a headdress and an ancient outfit, prayed at the Kashikodokoro shrine, followed by palace officials who carried the imperial regalia of a sacred sword and jewel he inherited from his father. He later prayed at two other main palace shrines.

Naruhito (Imperial Household Agency of Japan/AP)

Enshrined at Kashikodokoro is Amaterasu, the mythological ancestress of Japan’s emperors.

A main ascension ceremony is planned in October, when thousands of guests from Japan and overseas will be invited, followed by a religious harvest rite in November.

The harvest rite is funded by the government, which some experts say could violate the constitutional separation of state and religion.

The new 59-year-old emperor is a historian who studied at Oxford. He is Japan’s first emperor born after the Second World War and the first who has studied overseas.

In a statement on his succession, Naruhito pledged to emulate his father in seeking peace and staying close to the people.

Empress Masako (Imperial Household Agency of Japan/AP)

Empress Masako also prayed at the three shrines after Naruhito on Wednesday for the first time since 2002, after which she had largely receded from public appearances due to stress-induced mental conditions.

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