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Emperor's daughter becomes supreme priestess at Ise Jingu shrine

Sayako Kuroda (Mainichi)

TSU, Japan (Kyodo) -- Sayako Kuroda, the daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, assumed the post of supreme priestess at Ise Jingu this week, the ancient Shinto shrine in central Japan said.

    Kuroda, 48, on Monday officially replaced the 86-year-old Atsuko Ikeda, elder sister of the emperor, who served in the post for 29 years, after the imperial family requested her retirement, the shrine in Mie Prefecture said without giving other details.

    Kuroda will visit the shrine as the emperor's representative for festive events including Kanname-sai, held annually in October, in which crops are offered to sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, the ancestral deity of the imperial family.

    Kuroda, who became a commoner after marrying a man outside of the imperial family, acted as Ise Jingu's special priestess from 2012-2013, providing support for Ikeda at the Shikinen Sengu event, in which a symbol of the deity is transferred to a new building every 20 years.

    The post of supreme priest or priestess leads Shinto priests at the religion's holiest shrine. It has been assumed by current or former female imperial family members after World War II.

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