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Enthronement ceremony for new emperor mulled for Oct. 2019

Crown Prince Naruhito (Pool photo)

The government is mulling scheduling the enthronement ceremony for the next emperor for October 2019, months after Crown Prince Naruhito accedes to the Imperial Throne on May 1 that year upon his father Emperor Akihito's abdication, it has been learned.

Following the enthronement ceremony, a ritual called the Daijosai (Grand Thanksgiving), which a new emperor performs just once, will be held either on Nov. 14 or 23. Although the dates for both events have yet to be fixed, there will be an interval between the enthronement and Daijosai ceremonies.

Specific dates for the Imperial ceremonies will be finalized by taking political and other schedules into account, as 2019 will see Japan busy with international conferences and other key events.

Under the Tokyokurei decree issued during the Meiji era, the enthronement ceremony and the Daijosai were supposed to be conducted in succession during the fall-winter period. Since the reign of Emperor Yoshihito, posthumously known as Emperor Taisho, both ceremonies have been conducted in November.

However, when Emperor Akihito's enthronement ceremony and Daijosai were held in November 1990, "the new Emperor and (government) employees were heavily burdened as the two ceremonies came close to each other," a government source told the Mainichi Shimbun. Accordingly, the government is considering moving up the enthronement ceremony to sometime in October. The beginning of November is also a busy period, with the Order of Cultural Merit conferment ceremony (Nov. 3) and other events.

The Daijosai is normally held on the second or third day of the rabbit in November on the Japanese zodiac calendar. Emperor Akihito commenced the Daijosai on the evening of Nov. 22, 1990, the day of the rabbit. In 2019, the second and third day of the rabbit in November fall on Nov. 14 and 26, respectively.

Since the annual Niinamesai ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 23, 2019, the Daijosai is being considered for Nov. 14, or to coincide with the Niinamesai.

Although Japan will be hosting the Rugby World Cup from Sept. 20 through Nov. 2, 2019, a government source said that there would be no conflict between the event and the Imperial ceremonies, saying, "Because guests to be invited to the World Cup and the enthronement ceremony are different, it wouldn't be like we are asking them to come over and over again in a short period of time."

According to the Imperial Household Agency website, the Daijosai is a ceremony in which the emperor offers new rice to the Imperial Ancestor and to the Tenjin Chigi (the deities of heaven and earth). He also partakes of it himself, gives thanks and prays for peace and abundant harvests for the country and the people.

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