Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1: 5. Rites and Festivals
カテゴリー2: State Rites
"New Year greetings to the emperor." In ancient times these characters were read "mikado ogami." In ancient Japan, it was a state ceremony carried out at the Daigoku Hall with the participation of the many ministry officials. However, from the mid-Heian period (ca. tenth century) and to the end of the Tokugawa period (ca mid-nineteenth century) the ceremony was observed as a greeting ritual attended by a reduced audience from the imperial family (Kochōbai) which took place in the Seiryō Hall. After the Meiji Restoration, greetings to the emperor were revived, becoming a national New Year's celebration. Early in the morning on the first day of the new year, the emperor worships the four directions (shihōhai) in the garden of the Shinka Hall and performs rites known as saitansai in the palace's Three Sacred Halls (ikyūchū sanden), which are dedicated to the imperial ancestors and to the entire pantheon of kami as a prayer for the welfare of the nation. After the rites, he receives his first new year's greetings from the imperial family, then proceeds to the main hall, which he crosses three times and where he receives felicitations from the palace officials and the provincial officials, among others. A similar ceremony takes place on the next day. The New Year's Day was one of the "three great annual observances" (sandaisetsu), along with the Celebration of the Origin of the Imperial Reign (Kigen setsu), and the Celebration of the Emperor's Birthday (Tenchō setsu). New Year celebrations were referred to alternatively as the Dawn of the New Year (Shōgatsu gantan), Worship of  the Four Directions (Shihōhai), and the First Day of the First Month (Ichigatsu tsuitachi). However, it seems that the observance was officially referred to as the "New Year" (Shinnen). In current practice, New Year greetings to the emperor consist of two main components: first, the official "New Year Greeting Ceremony" (shinnen shukuga no gi) on January 1, attended by the heads of the three branches of government, along with cabinet members, government officials, and diplomats; and second, greetings from the general public on the following day, known as "New Year's Greetings from the People" (shinnen ippan sanga).
— Takeda Hideaki

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