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International News

Apr 18, 2019
12:47PM

Japanese Emperor performs ritual to report abdication to Shinto gods

AP
Japanese Emperor Akihito prayed at a shrine in a ritual to report his upcoming abdication to the Shinto gods. The 85-year-old emperor will retire on 30th April in the first abdication in 200 years and a rarity in Japan's ancient imperial history. 

Emperor Akihito's concerns over his health caused him to rethink the tradition. Crown Prince Naruhito will succeed to the Chrysanthemum throne on 1st May.  Akihito performed the "Shinetsu no Gi" ritual at Ise Shrine in western Japan as part of the succession process.

Akihito in a tuxedo headed into the shrine, with palace officials holding up two imperial treasures - sword and jewel. The third, a mirror, is kept at the shrine. The treasures were brought from the palace in Tokyo and traveled with the emperor. The regalia, or three treasures, will be handed to Naruhito after his succession. His daughter and head shrine priest, Sayako Kuroda, also attended.

Ise Shrine was a center of Japan's wartime emperor worship that still attracts political and business leaders today. Japanese emperors were once believed to be direct descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu, who is enshrined at Ise and who sits at the top of "yaoyorozu," or 8 million gods of all things in Shinto. 

Rituals at Ise Shrine are intended for the imperial family, and the emperor was the head priest until 1945 while Shinto was the state religion and the emperor was said to be a living god. Shinto, a religion perhaps as old as Japan itself, is a rich blend of folklore, reverence for all things natural and the Japanese nation. 

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