In Japan, the imperial divine ritual, financed by the public money, goes badly

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The cost of "Daijosai", amounting to more than 200 million euros is strongly criticized by advocates of the separation of religion and state.

By Philippe Pons Posted today at 11:34, updated at 11:49

Time to Reading 3 min.

The Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, during his Daijosai, the religious ceremony following his enthronement, on November 14, at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo.
The Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, during his Daijosai, the religious ceremony following his enthronement, on November 14, at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo. AP

In white traditional dress, symbol of purity, the Emperor Naruhito began, at nightfall, Thursday, November 14, a retreat that will last until dawn the next day in a wooden architecture pavilion, built to this effect in the enclosure of the imperial palace.

The Daijosai, " The first ritual of the tasting of the first fruits, which every emperor indulges in after his enthronement, is the last of the ceremonies which marked the advent of Naruhito, the 1stst May, following the abdication of his father, then his enthronement on October 22nd. The most esoteric too.

This ritual, during which the emperor offers to his divine ancestors the first rice of the year, is the consecration of it by the deities. In the secular democracy of Japan, whose Constitution stipulates the separation of religion and state, the great ritual of the first fruits is emblematic of the ambiguity of the imperial status.

The rice offered during the Daijosai comes from two provinces appointed by soothsayers after observing the deformation of the turtle shells heated by fire

State organ of which, according to the fundamental law, it is the " symbol "without any political function other than protocol, the emperor is also a tutelary religious figure indulging in private rituals of Shinto worship (polytheism venerating the forces of nature) which coexists with Buddhism, arrived in Japan in VIe century, and other religions.

Each year in November, the emperor presents as an offering to the deities the first grains of rice of the year. The ritual of Daijosai It has the same meaning, but it only takes place once a reign at the advent of a new emperor, and by its ceremonial it has a special symbolic meaning of communion with the deities. Back to VIIe century, it originated from immemorial agrarian rites. One of the chief functions of the ruler was then to pray to the deities for an abundant harvest.

The rice offered during this ritual comes from two provinces appointed by soothsayers after observing the deformation of fire-heated turtle shells. In a pavilion lit by oil lamps, the emperor, assisted by priestesses, places rice offerings on leaves.



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https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2019/11/14/au-japon-le-rituel-divin-imperial-finance-par-les-deniers-publics-passe-mal_6019127_3210.html

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