How much do you know about "Reiwa Daijo-sai Ceremony"?

The meaning of Daijo-sai Ceremony
 The accession of the new emperor represents the beginning of a new era in Japan. However, the Imperial Majesty must go through a process similar to the baptism ceremony before he becomes a true emperor, which is Daijo-sai Ceremony. This article will introduce you to some interesting anecdotes about "Reiwa Daijo-sai Ceremony".

 Since ancient times, Japan has been living on rice farming, so there are a lot of harvest sacrifice inheritance passed down to the present day. After the Emperor ascended to the throne, he also has to offer tribute to the emperor of new grains (Amaterasu Omikami) and the gods of heaven and earth (all the gods), and eat the tribute personally to express the wish for peace and prosperity and good harvest.
 The activities of the royal family alone include the sacrificial offering in the palace (this day is a holiday), the condolences from various countries, Daijo-sai Ceremony, Niinamesai Ceremony and other special sacrificial activities. The activities such as Daijo-sai Ceremony are exclusive to the royal family and have no connection with the government. After Daijo-sai Ceremony is officially completed, the Emperor can be said to be the Emperor in the true sense. Therefore, for every emperor of every year, this ceremony will be the most important journey in life.
The ceremony of appointing the Saiden
 Ambrosia (offerings to the gods) of Daijo-sai festival will be offered from all over Japan, and rice is the most important. But how do you choose the rice for the sacrifice from so many regions? What is interesting is that the tribute rice is not recommended by all regions, nor is it decided by relevant departments, but decided by the divination by tortoise-shell.

 The props used for divination are turtle shells salvaged from Ogasawara islands. They are specially processed to create a chess-shaped prop that is 24cm long, 15cm wide, and 1.5mm thick. The candidates of Saitian (rice field for producing sacrificial rice) are divined according to the texture of the tortoise shell. It is said that in order to select the tortoise shell for divination, the relevant personnel began to search for the appropriate tortoise shell in the second half of 2018.

 The ceremony of appointing the Saiden has completed the divination ceremony at the Three Shrines in the Imperial Court of the Imperial Palace on May 13. 2 regions producing Saidens were divined by the divination by tortoise-shell. Select one region respectively from each of “Yuki region” representing the "eastern" (18 prefectures on the east of Niigata, Nagano, Shizuoka), and “Suki region” representing the “west” (29 prefectures on the west of Niigata, Nagano, Shizuoka). According to divination results, Tochigi Prefecture and Kyoto Prefecture were elected respectively.

 However, details such as the divination basis of tortoise shell texture have not been made public, so the art of tortoise shell divination is still a mystery.
A tortoise shell for divination
 Tributes such as high-quality rice from all over the country are needed to hold Daijo-sai Ceremony, but it is a problem to store the rice. In order to solve the storage problem, receive, Daijo-gu is specially built for Daijo-sai Ceremony.

 It is not a fixed place for the new Emperor to hold the Daijo-sai Ceremony each time. In the ancient times, Daijo-gu was also built in Kyoto. The previous Heisei Daijo-gu was located in Kokyo Higashi Gyoen, which is in the northwest direction of Tokyo Station, and it is reused this time.Higashi Gyoen is divided into the Yuki-den building, which is dedicated for storing rice and other tributes, and the Suki-den building and the Kairyu-den building. Wooden shrine building will be built in Honmaru region where the once-famous Edo-jo Castle was located. In order to cooperate with the Daijo-sai Ceremony held on November 14th and 15th, the Daijo-gu, as the main stage, is also under construction day and night. Buildings of more than 40 items are expected to be completed by the end of October.

 Daijo-sai Ceremony is the first Niinamesai performed after the new Emperor assessed to the throne. On the ceremony, the Emperor would sacrifice the grain harvested this year to the gods and eat it in person, symbolizing peace and good harvest. For this rare an important memorial, the Emperor and the Empress will visit the "the Kairyu-den building" for purification and replacement of ceremonial dress. The Emperor, dressed in pure white ceremonial dress, will be moved from the Yuki-den building to the Suki-den building from the evening of the 14th to the early morning of the 15th to participate in the ceremony, and the Empress will also accompany the Emperor with the royal members in a white 12-single posture.

 At the end of October, some regional restrictions of Honmaru will be relieved, and Daijo-gu can be viewed from a distance. After the Daijo-sai Ceremony, Daijo-gu will be open to the public from November 21 to December 8.

The previous Daijo-gu built last time = pictured in Kokyo Higashi Gyoen in November 1990 
The ceremony of grand banquet
 After the ceremony at Daijo-gu was completed, the Emperor will share the wine and food yielded from the Saiden with the participants of the Daijo-sai festival to bless the peace and good harvest. The ceremony of grand banquet will be held on November 16th and 18th respectively according to the participants. At the site of the ceremony of grand banquet, tributes (specialties, agriculture, forestry and fisheries from following two regions) and dishes from the Yuki (the eastern area) and Suki (the western area) will be displayed. In addition, there is a folk song screen representing the cultural landscape of the two regions, which is also a grand feast of both taste and vision.
 After reading the above introduction, if you are interested in Daijo-sai Ceremony and Daijo-gu, you can come to visit during the opening period (November 21st to December 8th).