Events:

1-27 April Miyako Odori(Cherry Dance), Minamiza Theatre, Kyoto

Maiko and geiko dance performances

Advance tickets are available from overseas at:

http://miyako-odori.jp/english/

23-26 May Azuma Odori, Shinbashi Enbujo, Tokyo

https://azuma-odori.net/english/

Geisha dance performances

Tickets will be available after April 7

seasonal flowers:

cherry blossom forecast 2019:

http://www.japan-guide.com/sakura/

https://weathernews.jp/s/topics/201902/140055/?fm=sw&fmdotop=1  (Japanese version only)

https://tenki.jp/sakura/expectation/  (Japanese version only)


Sunday, April 7, 2019

ceremonies for Imperial succession

The new imperial era will begin on May 1. Emperor Akihito will be called “emperor emeritus” and Empress Michiko “empress emerita” following his abdication in April.  Prince Akishino, Crown Prince Naruhito's younger brother, will be the next crown prince.

A series of the ceremonies for the Imperial succession started on March 12. Most of them are simple and are not open to the public.

 In 2019 travelers should be careful about the holidays that will last from April 28(27) to May 6.


The abdication ceremonies of Emperor Akihito


12 March 
Kashikodokoro-ni-Taii-oyobisono-Kijitu-Hokoku-no-gi:
Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Taii-oyobisono-Kijitsu-Hokoku-no-gi:
 The Emperor wearing ancient attire for emperors reads out a script to report his abdication and its date at Kashikodokoro(賢所), Koreiden(皇霊殿) and Shinden(神殿) on Imperial Palace grounds.
Imperial ancestor Amaterasu-omikami(the sun goddess) is enshrined in Kashikodokoro(賢所). Successive emperors and members of the imperial family are enshrined in Koreiden(皇霊殿). Eight guardian gods of emperors and gods in heaven and earth are enshrined at Shinden(神殿).

Jingu-Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryooyobi-Showa-Tenno-izen-Yondai-no-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Chokushi-Hakkenn-no-gi:

The Emperor sends Imperial envoys for reporting his abdication and its date, and making offerings to the Ise Grand Shrine and the Mausolea of Emperor Jinmu and the 4 recent Emperors up to Emperor Showa.
The Mausolea of Emperor Komei and Emperor Meiji are located in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture.  Those of Emperor Taisho and Emperor Showa(Hirohito) are located in Hachioji City, Tokyo Prefecture.

15 March
Jingu-ni-Hohei-no-gi:
The Imperial envoy reports the abdication and its date, and made offerings at the Ise Grand Shrine.
Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-oyobi-Showa-Tenno-izen-Yondai-no-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Hohei-no-gi:
The Imperial envoys report the abdication and its date, and made offerings at the Mausolea of Emperor Jinmu and the 4 recent Emperors up to Emperor Showa.

26 March
Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Shin'etsu-no-gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Mausoleum of Emperor Jinmu, Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture.

18 April
Jingu-ni-Shin'etsu-no-gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Ise Grand Shrine, Ise City, Mie Prefecture.
23 April
Showa-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Shin'etsu-no-gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Mausoleum of Emperor Showa, Hachioji City, Tokyo.
30 April
Taiirei-Tojitsu-Kashikodokoro-Omae-no-gi,
Sokuirei-Tojitsu-Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Hokoku-no-gi:
 The Emperor reports the conduct of the Abdication Ceremony at Kashikodokoro, Koreiden and Shinden in Imperial Palace.

Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi(退位礼正殿の儀, the core abdication ceremony):
Attendants gather at the Matsu no Ma (main hall) of the Imperial Palace. At 5:00 pm, the imperial couple enter the hall. They are accompanied by the crown prince and the crown princess, imperial princes and princesses(their wives), imperial princesses, great-granddaughters of Emperor Taisho. Chamberlains place the sword and the jewel of the Three Imperial Regalia, the Great seal and the Imperial seal on a table in front of the emperor. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gives a speech on behalf of the Japanese people. The emperor gives a farewell address.

About 338 attendants of the ceremony include the prime minister, cabinet ministers, speakers and vice‐speakers from both houses of the Diet, the chief justice of Supreme Court of Japan, prefectural governors. After the couple make their exit, the attendants make their exit. The ceremony lasts for 10 minutes from 5:00 pm.


三神器
sword, mirror, and magatama
PawełMM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Three Imperial Regalia consist of the sword Kusanagi (草薙劍), the mirror Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡), and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉). 

Magatama are curved, comma-shaped beads. The oldest  magatama were excavated from ruins of the Jomon Period(c.14,000- 300BCE). The beads were popular in the tumulus period(300-538).
Yata no Kagami is a bronze mirror with one side polished bright, to give a reflection, and the reverse side with designs.

It is thought that the three regalia became used to confer legitimacy on their owner as an emperor around 9th century. The real sacred mirror is enshrined as an object symbolizing the goddess Amaterasu Omikami at the Ise Grand Shrine, Ise City, Mie Prefecture. Its replica is enshrined at Kashikodokoro of Imperial Palace. The real Kusanagi sword is placed at Atsuta Jingu Shrine in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Its replica and the jewel (it's real) are stored in a room of Imperial palace.

The sword's replica was made during the reign of Emperor Sujin, who is said to have lived in the early 1st century, or the third or fourth century. In the Nihonshoki(Chronicles of Japan), the real Kusanagi was moved from the Imperial palace to the Ise Grand Shrine. Later it was transferred to the Atsuta Shrine.
Though the replica remained in the Imperial palace, it  sank to the sea floor in 1185 when the Taira clan were defeated by the Minamoto clan at the Battle of Dan-no-ura. The sword and the jewel sank with many Taira clan members including the eight year-old Emperor Antoku. The jewel was recovered, but the sword was lost. Another sword was sent from the Ise Grand Shrine to the Imperial palace, and the sword became the replica of Kusanagi sword.

However, no one (even emperor) can see the real regalia and the replicas.


the enthronement ceremonies of the new Emperor

1-3 May
Kashikodokoro-no-gi:
Ceremony to report  the accession to the throne at Kashikodokoro in Imperial Palace(ritual prayer by a proxy).
1 May
Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Hokokuno-gi:
Ceremony to report the accession to the throne at Koreiden and Shinden in Imperial Palace(ritual prayer by a proxy).

Sokui no rei(即位の礼, enthronement ceremony) :

 1. Kenji-to-Shokei-no-Gi(Inheritance Ceremony of Kenji(剣璽, the sword and the jewel) and others)
Attendants of the ceremony including cabinet ministers, the heads of the three branches of government  gather at the the Matsu-no-Ma hall of the Imperial Palace. At 10:30 am, the new emperor enters the hall. He is accompanied by the crown prince and adult imperial princes.  Chamberlains place the sword and the jewel of the Three Imperial Regalia, the Great seal and the Imperial seal on a table in front of the new emperor. The new emperor makes his exit. Chamberlains carry the regalia and the seals out of the hall. The attendants make their exit. The ceremony lasts for 10 minutes from 10:30 am.


2. Sokuigo Choken-no-gi (the new emperor's declaration of accession to the throne)
Attendants of the ceremony gather at the the Matsu-no-Ma hall of the Imperial Palace. At 11:10 am, the new imperial couple enter the hall. They are accompanied by the crown prince and the crown princess, imperial princes and princesses(their wives), imperial princesses, and great-granddaughters of Emperor Taisho. The new emperor make an address. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gives a speech on behalf of the Japanese people. The new imperial couple make their exit. The attendants make their exit. The ceremony lasts for 10 minutes from 11:10 am.

4 May
Ippan-Sanga(Visit of the General Public to the Palace for celebrating the enthronement of the new emperor):
The new emperor receives congratulations from the general public after the Enthronement Ceremony at the Imperial Palace. No reservations are necessary, but visitors need to allow enough time to go through security check.

8 May
Kashikodokoro-ni-Kijitsu-Hokoku-no-Gi:
The new emperor reports the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony) at Kashikodokoro in  Imperial Palace.
Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Kijitsu-Hokoku-no-Gi:
The new emperor reports the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony) at Koreiden and Shinden in  Imperial Palace.
Jingu-Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-oyobi-Zen-Yondai-no-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Chokushi-Hakken-no-Gi:
Ceremony to send Imperial envoys for reporting the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (Great Thanksgiving Ceremony), and making offerings to the Ise Grand Shrine and the Mausolea of Emperor Jinmu and the 4 recent Emperors up to Emperor Showa.

10 May
Jingu-ni-Hohei-no-Gi:
The Imperial envoy reports the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony), and makes offerings at the Ise Grand Shrine.
Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-oyobi-Showa-Tenno-izen-Yondai-no-Tenno-Sanryo-ni-Hohei-no-gi:
The Imperial envoys report the dates of the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony), and make offerings at the Mausolea of Emperor Jinmu and the 4 recent Emperors up to Emperor Showa.

22 October
Sokuirei-Tojitsu-Kashikodokoro-Omae-no-gi:
The Emperor reports the conduct of the Enthronement Ceremony at Kashikodokoro.
Sokuirei-Tojitsu-Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Hokoku-no-gi:
The Emperor reports the conduct of the Enthronement Ceremony at Koreiden and Shinden.

Sokuirei-Seiden-no-Gi(即位礼正殿の儀, the core enthronement ceremony):
The new emperor proclaims his enthronement and receives felicitations of representatives from home and abroad. About 2,500 guests are invited to attend the ceremony, including heads of states and their spouses, congratulatory envoys and their spouses, ambassadors to Japan, representatives of Japanese descendants from 195 countries.

Shukuga-Onretsu-no-Gi(the coronation parade):
A celebration parade moves from the Imperial Palace to the Akasaka Imperial Residence. The imperial couple get in a convertible, the crown prince does in another car. About 110,000 people lined motorcade route to cheer at the last coronation parade in 1990.

22, 25, 29, 31 October
Kyoen-no-Gi(Imperial Court banquet):
Court banquet to celebrate the enthronement of the Emperor and for him to receive the congratulations of the guests in the Imperial Palace. Sit-down dinners are held on October 22 and 25, stand-up ones are done on October 29 and 31.
About 2,600 guests are invited to attend the banquet, including heads of states and their spouses, congratulatory envoys and their spouses, ambassadors to Japan and their spouses, representatives of Japanese descendants.

23 October
Formal dinner put on by the Prime Minister and his wife at the Hotel New Otani Tokyo:
About 900 guests are invited to attend the dinner, including heads of states and their spouses, congratulatory envoys and their spouses, two representatives of each country, representatives of Japanese descendants.

14-15 November
Daijosai(大嘗祭, GreatThanksgiving Ceremony)

Daijokyu-no-gi 
(Yukiden-Kyosen-no-gi,Sukiden-Kyosen-no-gi):
Daijosai is a Niinamesai that a new emperor holds for the first time after his enthronement. Annual Niinamesai is a harvest festival held at Shinkaden in Imperial Palace on November 23rd. The festival dates back at least to 677. 
Daijosai takes place at a temporary site. This year's site is East Gardens on Imperial Palace Grounds.
The new emperor dedicates newly harvested rice to imperial ancestors and gods in heaven and earth for the first time after his enthronement, and he partakes of the rice.
The rites related to Daijosai  are held on May 13, November 8, 12, 13,14,16, 18. The dates of five rites are to be determined.

TBD
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Jingu-ni-Shin'etsu-no-Gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at  the inner and outer shrine of the Ise Grand Shrine after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony).
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Jinmu-Tenno-Sanryo-oyobi-Zen-Yondai-no-Tenno- Sanryo-ni-Goshin'etsu-no-Gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Imperial mausoleums of Emperor Jinmu and the four most recent Emperors, after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony).
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Kashikodokoro-ni-Shin'etsu-no-Gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at Kashikodokoro in the Imperial palace after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony).
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Shin'etsu-no-Gi:
The Emperor pays reverence at the Koreiden and Shinden in the Imperial palace after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony).
Sokuirei-oyobi-Daijosai-go-Kashikodokoro-Mikagura-no-Gi:
A ceremonial performance of Mikagura (Japanese Court Music) at Kashikodokoro after the Enthronement Ceremony and Daijosai (GreatThanksgiving Ceremony)

19 April, 2020
Rikkoshi-no-Rei(立皇嗣の礼):

Ceremony for Proclamation of the new Crown Prince at the Imperial Palace


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Japan's next era name

Japan's next era name is “Reiwa(令和)”, the government announced on Monday. The Japanese era name "Heisei(平成)" is scheduled to end on 30 April 2019 when Japan's Emperor Akihito will abdicate. He will relinquish the throne to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. The new imperial era will begin on May 1.

Japanese era name called gengo used to be changed repeatedly for various reasons including new emperors' enthronement,  natural catastrophes, plague outbreaks prior to the Meiji period. It was established by law to change era names only when a new emperor acceded to the throne in 1868. The legal basis of the Japanese era system is lost in 1947 when the former Imperial Household Law was abolished. An era-name bill was passed, and legislation on the era name system was enacted into law in 1979.

The era names  started with Taika(大化, 645-650).  From Taika to Heisei(current era name),  247 era names were used. The kanji "令" is not included in the previous 247 era names. The kanji "和" is included in 20 era names such as Wado(和銅, 708-715), Jowa(承和, 834-848), Genna(元和, 1615-1624), Meiwa(明和, 1764-1772), Showa(昭和, 1926-1989). All era names other than Reiwa are derived from Chinese classics. Reiwa comes from a preface to a ume(plum) poem in "Manyo-shu(Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves)", the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry in the late eighth century.

original text of the ume poem:
于時、初春令月、氣淑風和、梅披鏡前之粉、蘭薫珮後之香。

初春の令月(れいげつ)にして、気淑(よ)く風和ぎ、梅は鏡前の粉を披(ひら)き、蘭は珮後(はいご)の香を薫す
Early spring(February),  it's good month to begin everything, the air is clean, the wind is calm.
Ume blossoms come into bloom like a beauty who is putting on face-powder before a mirror.
Sweet herbs(or a party space?) emit scents  as if traces of a scented sachet emanate.

Its author is unknown, but the poem is said to have been written on the 13th day of the 1st month in 730 when a ume viewing party was held at Otomo no Tabito's home.

The collection of poems includes approximately 4,500 poems written by people from every walk of life from different regions of Japan over a period of about 300 years. Its poets consist of a variety of persons such as emperors, aristocrats, commoners, people at the very end of the road, front-line soldiers, punished or executed persons and beggars.





Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year's Holidays 2019

May the New Year bring many good things to you.

2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese zodiac. Each of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs is related to a characteristic animal. In the Japanese zodiac, the Pig is replaced by the boar because pigs were not common in Japan.

Wild boar was thought to be a messenger of the god of fire prevention. People used to put heaters  in rooms to pray for fire prevention on the day of the boar. A pig-shaped burner for mosquito coil(蚊取り線香) is popular, but the burner is said to be boar-shaped to pray for fire prevention originally.

Visitors can sometimes see ornamental metal fittings with heart shaped cut outs in Japanese Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The cut outs mean Inome(猪の目, boar's eye) and have been used to ward off evil spirits and bring happiness.

Inome-window, Shoju-in(正寿院), Okuyamada, Ujitawara-cho, Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto Prefecture
credit: Hunini
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository




New Year's card

"亥" means a boar.
"元旦" means New Year's Day morning.



















New Year's card

The Japanese era name "Heisei(平成)" is scheduled to end on 30 April 2019 when Japan's Emperor Akihito will abdicate. He will relinquish the throne to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. Japanese era names used to be changed repeatedly prior to the Meiji period. It was ruled to change era names only when a new emperor acceded to the throne in 1868. The next era name is in the air. The government will release the name a month before the imperial succession.


















New Year's greetings

formal(to elders and betters)
・謹賀新年(Kinga Shinnen)
・恭賀新年(Kyoga Shinnen)
・謹んで新春のご祝詞を申し上げます
・謹んで初春のお慶びを申し上げます

New Year's card


New Year's card





New Year's card




unformal
・寿(kotobuki) -- happy, auspicious
・福(Fuku) --happiness
・賀(Ga) --celebration
・賀正(Gasho) --observe New Year's holidays
・賀春(Gasyun) --observe a new year
・頌春(Shosyun)--praise a New Year
・迎春(Geisyun) --embark on a new year
・初春(Hatuharu) --a new year, beginning of year
・新春(Shinsyun) --a new year

"春" means spring. Spring means a new year because a year used to begin around the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.

New Year's card


New Year's card

New Year's card


to anyone
・明けましておめでとうございます
・新年おめでとうございます
・新春のお慶びを申し上げます

New Year's card


New Year's card

Ornamental cabbages(葉牡丹, habotan) have been used as a ground cover plant of New Year's decorations since the middle of the Edo Period. Habotan means leaves like a peony. In recent years, miniature ornamental cabbages are very popular as a cut flower or a plant suited to group plantings. A bouquet made of the cabbages looks like a rose bouquet.

Ornamental cabbages are often planted with violas and garden cyclamens.




two types of ornamental cabbages and a garden cyclamen



New Year Holiday Arrangement with an ornamental cabbage




Ornamental cabbages flower in the second year



New Year Lease



Ready-made traditional New Year foods called Osechi Ryori are set in three-tiered boxes.