senzasai 遷座祭
KEY WORD : architecture / shrines
A festival held for a building that is to be dismantled and rebuilt, or undergo major repairs. Before construction begins, the deity must be transferred to temporary quarters and then returned when the permanent structure is completed. There are two types of festivals: a special festival and a regular one, called *shikinen senguu 式年遷宮. Shrines which in the past were regularly renewed every seven, thirteen, twenty, thirty or fifty years exemplify the second type. Today, Ise Jinguu 伊勢神宮 in Mie prefecture, falls into this category because it continues to be rebuilt every twenty years. The custom of rebuilding a shrine every fixed number of years is believed by many scholars to have been introduced first at Ise in the 7c. In Japan's indigenous religion Shinto, people believed that the gods inhabiting mountains, rocks, trees etc. would occasionally leave their abodes and come to dwell among them in order to help celebrate planting or harvest. Eventually, shelters were erected to accommodate them. Every precaution, including complex purification rites, was undertaken to insure perfect cleanliness, a central feature of Shinto. Shrine buildings shaden 社殿 were reconstructed, not only due to general deterioration but in order to make the god's dwelling as pure as possible. Three arrangements exist for the festival, senzasai. 1 Two separate sites are used alternately. Example: Ise Jinguu, is rebuilt on alternate sites every twenty years. 2 Sometimes three sites existed, including one for the main sanctuary. The old temporary sanctuary was dismantled and a new temporary sanctuary *kariden 仮殿, built . At the same time, a new main sanctuary was constructed in front of the old one. Completion of the these two buildings brought the number of sanctuaries to three. The deity was first transferred from the old main sanctuary to the new temporary shrine, called karisenguu 仮遷宮 (temporary transferral). The old *honden 本殿 was dismantled and the new one was moved and placed on the site of the old one. The temporary shrine and the new main honden were then side by side in line along an east to west axis. When this operation was completed, the deity was then installed in the new main sanctuary. This last transfer is called shousenguu 正遷宮. Example: This complicated procedure was followed at Kamo Wakeikazuchi Jinja 賀茂別雷神社 in Kyoto, according to a shrine document dated 1305. However, neither this tradition of building nor the accompanying ceremonies are followed today. 3 Sometimes a temporary shrine was constructed at some distance from the permanent one just prior to a festival. The festival begins with the transferal of the deity. Immediately after the festival, the deity to is returned its permanent abode and the temporary shrine is dismantled. Example: Kasuga Taisha Wakamiya Otabisho Shinden 春日大社若宮御旅所神殿 in Nara, which takes place annually in December.


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