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Daily, monthly, annual ceremonies
New Year at Meiji Jingu
(Photo: New Year at Meiji Jingu)

The following gives and overview of the main ceremonies at Meiji Jingu. Honden refers to the main shrine building. Haraesha refers to the purification hut opposite the South Temizuya (font).

2014 SCHEDULE
Date Time Ceremony Explanation Venue
Daily 8 am,
2 pm
Nikkusai Sacred food offering and prayers for worldwide peace and everybody's prosperity Honden
1st and 15th of each month 9 am Tsukinamisai Sacred food offering and prayers for worldwide peace and everybody's prosperity Honden
Jan. 1 7 am Saitansai New Year's Day ritual Honden
Jan. 5 -30 All day Shodoten Exhibition of winners' works in the calligraphy competition for elementary and junior high school students Courtyard in front ofHonden
Jan. 8 3:00 pm Dezuiri Sumo grand champion "ring entering" ceremony Courtyard in front of Honden
Jan. 7 9 am Musashino-Goryo-
Yohaishiki
Emperor Showa Memorial Day rite Haraesha
Feb. 11 10 am Kigensai National Foundation Day festival Honden
Feb. 17 10 am Kinensai Prayer ceremony for agricultural fertility Honden
Mar. 2

10:45 am Hinamatsuri Doll festival Honden
Mar. 21 (vernal equinox) 9 am Koreiden-
Yohaishiki
Paying respect towards the Imperial Palace sanctuary Koreiden Haraesha
April 3 9 am Unebiyama-
Yohaishiki
Emperor Jinmu Memorial Day rite Haraesha
April 11 10 am Shoken-Kotaigo-Hyakunensai Empress Shoken 100th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony (to remember the virtues of Empress Shoken) Honden
May 2 10 am Haru-no-Taisai Spring Grand Festival morning ceremony Honden
May 2 2 pm Haru-no-Taisai Spring Grand Festival afternoon ceremony Honden
May 3 10 am Haru-no-Taisai Spring Grand Festival morning ceremony Honden
May 5 11 am Kodomo-no-Matsuri Children's Festival Honden
May 5
(Rikka, first day of summer)
8 am Onzosai Ceremony of the changing of the divine robes Honden
June 30 2 pm Oharae Great Purification (to cast out sins and impurities) Haraesha
June 7 10 am Tanabata-Matsuri Star Festival Honden
July 30 10 am Meiji-Tenno-Sai Emperor Meiji Memorial Ceremony (to remember the virtues of Emperor Meiji) Honden
Sept. 15 10 am Chojukenko-Kigansai/
Keirosai
Ceremony for the health and longevity of the elderly Honden
Sept. 23
(autumn equinox)
10 am Koreiden-
Yohaishiki
Paying respect towards the Imperial Palace sanctuary Koreiden Haraesha
Oct. 1 10:30 am Dezuiri Sumo grand champion "ring entering" ceremony Courtyard in front of Honden
Oct. 5 10 am Ningyo-Kanshasai Festival to thank dolls Honden
Oct. 17 9 am Jingu-Yohaishiki Ceremony on the same day as the Harvest Festival of Ise Jingu Haraesha
Oct. 19


10 am Keneihikoshiki Ceremonial recital of poems Honden
Nov. 1 10 am Chinzakinensai Meiji Jingu Enshrinement Anniversary Ceremony Honden
Nov. 1 2 pm Aki-no-Taisai Autumn Grand Festival afternoon ceremony Honden
Nov. 2 10 am Aki-no-Taisai Autumn Grand Festival morning ceremony Honden
Nov. 3 10 am Reisai Ceremony to commemorate Emperor Meiji's birthday Honden
Nov. 7
(Ritto, first day of winter)
9 am Onzosai Ceremony of the changing of the divine robes Honden
Nov. 23 10 am Niinamesai Harvest Ceremony Honden
Dec. 23 10 am Tenchosai Celebration of the current Emperor's birthday Honden
Dec. 28 10 am Susuharai Ceremonial year-end cleaning of the main shrine buildings Honden
Dec. 31 2 pm Oharae Great purification (to cast out sins and impurities) Haraesha
Dec. 31 4 pm Joyasai Year-end ritual Honden
There are several more events held at Meiji Jingu. During Spring Grand Festival (April 29 to May 3), Bugaku (traditional ceremonial dance and music), Noh (traditional theatre), Sankyoku and Hogaku (traditional popular music), Hobu (traditional popular dance), and Kyudo (archery) are performed. During Autumn Grand Festival, Yabusame (horseback archery), and Budo (martial arts) are performed in honour of the deities.
For details see Performances in honour of the deities.


Details of some of the above ceremonies:
Nikkusai
(Daily 8 am and 2 pm)
Sacred food and prayers for worldwide peace and everybody's prosperity. The ceremony takes about 10 minutes.


Tsukinamisai
(1st and 15th of each month, 9 am)
Sacred food offerings and prayers for worldwide peace and everybody's prosperity. This ceremony takes about 50 minutes.

Saitansai: New Year's Day ritual
(January 1st, 7 am)
This is the first ceremony in the new year, and it is also the earliest ceremony (the only ceremony carried out at 7 am). It is hardly visible from outside, but the big drum is audible.
Many Japanese go on Hatsumode (a "first shrine visit of the year") during the New Year season. More than 98 million people pay a visit to shrines or temples across Japan during the first three days of the new year (according to the National Police Agency). Among them, Meiji Jingu has been attracting the most visitors, more than 3 million. Everyone is welcome to come for a New Year shrine visit. At the Juyosho (the amulet offices), there are not only the usual Ofuda (emblems) and Omamori (lucky charms), but also special items for the new year, e.g. bells and Ema (votive tablets) featuring this year's Eto (zodiac animal).


Kigensai: National Foundation Day festival
(February 11th, 10 am)
Kigensai is a ritual ceremony commemorating the foundation of Japan. It is said that Emperor Jinmu, the first Emperor of Japan, was enthroned at Kashihara-no-miya in Nara prefecture on this day more than 2600 years ago. During Kigensai, Shinto priests in festive attire offer food and recite prayers, and shrine maidens perform a sacred dance. There will also be a parade of many Mikoshi (portable shrines) on Omotesando towards Meiji Jingu, and the brass band of the "Association of Celebrating the Establishment of Japan" will play in honour of the deities.


Kinensai: Prayer ceremony for agricultural fertility
(February 17th, 10 am)
This ceremony forms a set with Niinamesai (the Harvest Festival) in autumn. Kinensai contains prayers for a good harvest, and Niinamesai expresses the gratitude for a bountiful harvest.


Shoken-Kotaigo-Hyakunensai: Empress Shoken 100th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony
(to remember the virtues of Empress Shoken)
(April 11th, 10 am)
April 11, 2014, marks the one hundredth anniversary of the passing of Empress Shoken(empress consort to Emperor Meiji).
Meiji Jingu is dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken.
Empress Shoken (28 May 1850-11 April 1914) not only supported Emperor Meiji behind the scenes but also devoted herself to promoting national welfare and women's education. She was also concerned about social welfare in the world.
Therefore, she not only continued to offer tremendous support to the Japanese Red Cross Society, but also donated one hundred thousand yen to the International Federation of the Red Cross in Geneva, expressing her wish for the Red Cross to be active in relief work during peace time. To commemorate the Empress's magnanimous heart the fund was named the Empress Shoken Fund and has been used for international welfare activities, funding about 10 projects (almost 400,000 USD) per year. The allocation of the grants is customarily announced on April 11th each year.
April 11th is the day that Empress Shoken passed away, and we will hold a ceremony in her honour. The ceremony will be carried out according to ancient Shinto rites: there will be a recital of Shinto liturgy, food offerings (including vegetables grown in the forest of Meiji Jingu), and the sacred dance Kuretake-no-Mai, which is based on a poem by Empress Shoken.

Kuretake-no-Mai
We pray that people / Be just unassuming / Like the bamboo, //
Which grows without pretension / Or unsightly gnarls.

(People do not have to be distinguished in the world; they need only to stand straight like the bamboo and remain sunao, or open, unblemished and honest.)

Haru-no-Taisai: Spring Grand Festival
(May 2nd, 10 am and 2 pm; and May 3rd, 10 am)
It is the season of the Meiji Jingu Spring Grand Festival. From April 29th to May 3rd, Meiji Jingu will hold several solemn Shinto ceremonies including one of the largest rituals of the year at Meiji Jingu. These rituals are scheduled for 10 am and 2 pm on May 2nd, and the largest one for 10 am on May 3rd. Members of the Sukeikai, an organization which was established in 1946 for paying respect to the enshrined Kami and for supporting Meiji Jingu, attend those rituals in the inner courtyard of the main shrine buildings. Shrine maidens will perform "Urayasu-no-Mai", a Kagura (sacred dance) based on a poem which Emperor Showa, the last Emperor before the current Emperor, wrote praying for world-wide peace and wishing that nothing disturb the world's tranquility:

Urayasu-no-Mai
To all deities / Of heaven and earth I pray / For a tranquil world //
Without disturbances / -- like the sea in the morning.

On the occasion of this festival, various Japanese traditional performing arts are performed in honour of the deities on the stage in front of the main shrine building. Everyone is welcome to observe these performances such as Bugaku (ancient imperial court music), Hogaku and Hobu (classical Japanese dance), Noh and Kyogen (classical Japanese theatre), Sankyoku (traditional Japanese music), and Satsuma biwa (Japanese lute). For details see Performances in honour of the deities.

Oharae: Great purification (to cast out sins and impurities)
(June 30 and December 31, 2 pm, at Haraesha)
Twice a year, on the last day of June and on the last day of December, a great purification ceremony is held in at Haraesha, the purification hall at the main approach (right opposite the South Temizuya, the font to rinse hands and mouth before entering the inner shrine area).
Anybody is welcome to take part in this ceremony (registration is not necessary).
Participants bow their heads while the grand purification words are recited, and they bow again when a purification wand (a branch of the Sakaki-tree) is waved three times and when small pieces of white paper are sprinkled three times for purification.

Meiji-Tenno-Sai: Emperor Meiji Memorial Ceremony
(to remember the virtues of Emperor Meiji on his memorial day)
(July 30th, 9am)
The 30th of July is the memorial day of Emperor Meiji, whose soul is enshrined at Meiji Jingu. There will be a Shinto Ceremony in his memory from 9 am at the main shrine building. During this ceremony, the sacred dance Meiji-Jingu-Yamato-Mai is performed by a Shinto priest. This sacred dance is based on the following poem by Emperor Meiji:

Meiji-Jingu-Yamato-Mai
The spacious sky / Spans serene and clear / So blue above, //
Oh, that our soul could grow / And become so open!

(Like the blue sky that stretches onward over us, we ourselves should like to have a heart so large and open.)

When Japan was facing unprecedented difficult times, Emperor Meiji made a great effort to build modern Japan, including the establishment of the constitution and the opening of the Diet.
When Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912, condolences were offered from all over the world. Emperor Meiji was buried at the Imperial tomb of Fushimimomoyama in Kyoto, but following the strong wish of the population, Meiji Jingu was founded in 1920 to enshrine his soul.

On the Emperor Meiji Memorial Day, the 30th of July, Homotsuden (the Treasure Museum) and the exhibition at Homotsu-Tenjishitsu (the "Treasure Museum Annex" at Bunkakan) are free of charge.

Keneihikoshiki: Ceremonial recital of poems
(October 19th, 10 am)
The "Ceremonial recital of poems" is part of the celebrations of Meiji Jingu Autumn Grand Festival. Waka (traditional Japanese poems of 31 syllables with the pattern 5-7-5-7-7) are granted by members of the Imperial Family and submitted by the general public, not only from inside Japan but also from abroad, amounting to a total of about 4,000 poems. Among them, the Waka chosen by the judges of the "Meiji Memorial Joint Poetry Committee", which is composed of poets excelling each in their poetry circle or poetry association, are recited in a dignified manner before the deities according to the ceremonial way of reciting of the "Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime" (Imperial New Yearfs Poetry Reading) at the Imperial Palace: For each poem, the Dokuji (master of ceremonies) presents the paper with the poem, the Koji (reader) reads it out aloud, the Hassei (lead singer) recites the poem in a chanting melody, and the Kosho (accompanying singers) join into this melodic recital from the second line of the poem. During the ceremonial recital itself, the chief priest of Meiji Jingu (assuming the role of the Dokuji) and the reciters of the Utakai Hajime of the Imperial Palace sit in a circle, recite in a sonorous way the Waka chosen from the many poems submitted, and finally recite twice the Waka granted by the Imperial Family. Emperor Meiji composed about 100,000 Waka during his lifetime, and Empress Shoken has left us with a collection of nearly 30,000 of her own poems. The writing of Waka has been traditionally called "Shikishima-no-Michi" , or the "Way of Shikishima" (Shikishima being a poetic name for Japan). If you happen to be at Meiji Jingu at this time, please enjoy this ancient ritual of Japanfs traditional culture!

Chinzakinensai: Meiji Jingu Enshrinement Anniversary Ceremony
(November 1, 10 am)
The souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken were enshrined at Meiji Jingu on the 1st of November 1920. This ceremony is celebrating the anniversary of this enshrinement. During the ceremony, the sacred dance Yoyogi-no-Mai is performed by shrine maidens. This dance is based on a poem by Emperor Meiji.


Aki-no-Taisai: Autumn Grand Festival
(Several days around the beginning of November, mainly November 1st to 3rd)
On the occasion of the celebrations of the anniversary of Emperor Meiji's birthday and Meiji Jingu's enshrinement anniversary, various ceremonies are held (including Chinzakinensai and Reisai). Also, arts are performed in honour of the deities (see Performances in honour of the deities).


Reisai: Grand Shinto Ceremony commemorating the Anniversary of Emperor Meiji's Birthday
(November 3, 10 am)
A grand solemn Shinto ceremony is held to commemorate the anniversary of Emperor Meiji's birthday. During the ceremony, Yoyogi-no- Mai is performed.

Yoyogi-no-Mai
Inspire into what befalls/Through ancient history.
And render clear the many doubts/That puzzle men Today!
(That means developing new ideas based on study of the part.)


Niinamesai: Harvest Ceremony
(November 23, 10 am)
In gratitude for a bountiful harvest, vegetables and fruit are piled up in the shape of boats in front of the main shrine building, and a Shinto ceremony is held. During the ceremony, the sacred dance Yoyogi-no-Mai is performed. (See Reisai above for details about this sacred dance.)


Tenchosai: Celebration of the current Emperor's birthday
(December 23, 10 am)
There is a solemn Shinto ceremony at the main shrine building.


Joyasai: Year-end ritual
(December 31, 4 pm)
This is the last ceremony of the year, and it is also the latest (the only ceremony carried out at 4 pm). It is hardly visible from outside, but the big drum at the beginning and at the end of the ceremony is clearly audible, even from far away. On this day, Meiji Jingu does not close but stays open all night.