Japenese Emperor Naruhito is performing the last accession rite that has created waves of criticism all around the world. The century-old rite is the last step for Emperor Naruhito to officially ascend the throne that he enthroned in May 2019. So what does this rite really involve?
Dressed in pure white robes, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito entered the last accession rite on Thursday. He would be spending the night with a goddess which is a century-old tradition for the Japanese. With this last rite, Naruhito will take over the throne after his father, Akihito’s abdication.
But what does it mean to spend the night with a goddess? And what is the Japanese belief behind it?
This rite which is termed as ‘Daijosai’ will last till Friday morning. The goddess in this context is “Amaterasu Omikami” which is the sun goddess of the Japanese. In fact, it is believed that the royal bloodline hails from her.
According to popular Japnese legend, the emperor has a conjugal relationship with the sun goddess. But now, scholars say that for this final right, the emperor has to only share a meal of dishes from all over the country with the goddess.
A professor at the International Research center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, John Breen says, “This ritual is basically a feast involving the sun goddess and the emperor. The emperor is transformed by partaking of this feast.”
For the ritual ‘Daijosai’ to take place, grand preparations kicked off months ago. A special shrine was constructed on the palace grounds.
‘Spending the night’ with a goddess
The dining, Daijosai, involved 32 plates made of oak leaves that were set for offering to the sun goddess. This was followed by praying for the peace of Japan. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito arranged the plates accompanied only with two shrine maidens. This ritual lasted for two and a half hours.
But this is not all. The whole process would be repeated in another shrine building and the whole ritual would wrap up around 3:00 am Friday.
Why are the critics bothered?
You must be wondering what is so wrong with this? Why are critics not happy with Emperor Naruhito performing the age-old ritual ‘Daijosai’ that had President Shinzo Abe in attendance? People are seeking to ban this ritual. Among other lawsuits that the ritual is facing, one is made by Naruhito’s younger brother.
Crown Prince Akishino thinks that the ritual should not use public funds. Instead, he believes that the royal family should use its private funds and endorse a smaller Daijosai ritual.