daijousai  大嘗祭
KEY WORD : architecture / shrines
 
Also read oonihe matsuri, oonie matsuri, ooname matsuri, and oomube matsuri. The Great Food Festival, which includes extensive preparations for the final enactment of the communion of the emperor with the gods. It dates from ancient times as a major part of the enthronement ceremonies and is therefore performed only once within an emperor's life time. It is an elaborate variation of the annual festival niinamesai 新嘗祭 when the emperor offers the first harvest of new rice to the ancestral gods and then partakes of it himself. Several references to the annual harvest festival are found in both the NIHON SHOKI 日本書紀 and KOJIKI 古事記 before the first appearance of the word daijou in 674, during the reign of Emperor Tenmu 天武 (?-686). The Great Food Festival is described in the JOUGAN GISHIKI 貞観儀式, (Ceremonials of the Jougan 貞観 era; 859-76), and book seven of the ENGISHIKI 延喜式 (Procedures of the Engi 延喜 era; 901-22) contains a detailed description of The Great Food Festival of Enthronement. Before the Heian period, a special area for the daijousai was enclosed and consecrated in front of the Imperial Council Hall, daigokuden 大極殿. After the capital was moved to Heian, the daijousai took place in a sacred area slightly north of the palace called kitano-no-saijou 北野の斎場 (place of ceremony in the north plain). Later the location was changed to the courtyard in front of the Shishinden 紫宸殿 where various temporary structures were erected to form the sanctuaries in which the Great Food Festival took place. See *daijoukyuu 大嘗宮. According to the ENGISHIKI, the newly enthroned emperor entered the precinct from the southeast side gate. After various rituals he entered the Ablution Hall, kairyuuden 廻立殿, where he received ceremonial purification before being attired in garments purged of all defilements. He then continued to the Yuki-in *shouden 悠紀院正殿, the main hall of the eastern sanctuary of the daijoukyuu, where he entered the inner chamber. There he offered specially grown sacred rice and rice wine to the gods, and then ate the rice and drank the wine himself. This was the evening meal which according to the ENGISHIKI was taken shortly before midnight. Following this, he returned to the kairyuuden, where he underwent more purification rites, and then proceeded to the Suki-in shouden 主基院正殿 or western sanctuary. There he repeated the same offering to the gods and then ate his morning meal. According to the ENGISHIKI, this ceremony began about 3:00 A.M. When the Great Food Festival was completed all the temporary structures were burned. By the end of the 12c. the extent of the pomp and pageantry at the daijousai had decreased, and the festival declined further over the next few centuries, ceasing altogether in the 15c. during the Ounin 応仁 wars. Although later revived, the festival did not attain similar elaborateness until the enthronements of the Meiji 明治, Taishou 大正 and Shouwa 昭和 Emperors in 1871 in Tokyo, 1915 in Kyoto, and 1928 in Tokyo respectively.
 
 

 
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