Kan’namesai – a harvest festival rite at the Ise Shrines celebrating the imperial lineage’s divine ancestry by offering first fruits to Amaterasu Ōmikami

Kan’namesai – Source: Encyclopedia of Shinto
A rite at the Ise Shrines celebrating the imperial lineage’s divine ancestry by offering first fruits to Amaterasu Ōmikami on the seventeenth day of the tenth month; the harvest festival of those shrines. On the day of the festival, a ceremony of “worship from afar” (yōhai) is performed, and a rite for the imperial ancestors (shinsai no gi) is performed at the kashikodokoro at the palace. The 1933 Jingūshichō kunrei states to “take the kannamesai is the most significant rite for the divine lineage; and the most fundamental ceremony of all those performed at Ise. It was formalized in the ancient period in the Jingiryō, according to which the emperor was to dispatch the imperial ritualist (hōbeishi) on the eleventh day of the ninth lunar month to perform the offering in the Daigokuden (which was known as the Koyasumidono in ancient times). The term reihei, referring to the imperial tribute offered in this ritual, first appears in the fifth year of the Yōrō era (721). The rite died out in the medieval period but was revived at the beginning of the Edo period, continuing until Meiji. In 1871, an edict on theKashikodokoro kannamesai pronounced that from then on, on the seventeenth day of the ninth month, within the palace the formal rite (haishiki) was to be performed at Kōtai Jingū and the “distant rite” (yōhai) was to be performed at upper and middle palaces by the one-hundred ministers of the court. This proclamation rested on the view that, in rites for the imperial ancestors, the Kashikodokoro (because it enshrines the yata no kagami, or sacred imperial mirror) was spiritually linked to the Ise Shrines; and thus the Kashikodokoro was regarded as a substitute (godaigū) for the Ise Shrines within the palace. Thus, on the day of the kannamesai festival, both “worship from afar” and direct worship of the imperial ancestors by the emperor himself (shinsai) were performed within the imperial palace. With the change to the solar calendar, the seventeenth of the ninth month fell at a time when the harvest had not yet ripened, so in 1878 the ritual was moved to October. Thereafter, the festival was codified in the fourteenth article of Kōshitsu saishi ryō which reads “the kannamesai, in addition to the fundamental ceremony performed at the Ise jingū , is also to be performed concurrently within the palace in the kashikodokoro. On the day of the kannamesai, the divine imperial shrine (tenkō jingū) is to be “worshipped from afar,” and at the same time tribute is to be paid to the Daigokuden.” In other words, this article established that rites were to be performed at the Kashikodokoro within the palace on the same day as the kannamesai at Ise, thus making it a major rite (taisai) of the palace. In 1914, by order of the Home Ministry, head priests from nationally-endowed shrines (kankokuheisha) on down were obliged to include kannamesai among their rituals. Even after the war, article 3 of the Association for Shinto Shrines’ (Jinja honchō) regulations (Jinja saishi kitei) established kannamesai as one of the middle-grade rituals (chūsai) for all shrines.

—Nakanishi Masayuki

Kasuga Jinja Niiname-sai (traditional harvest) The harvest thanksgiving festival of the Kurokawa district features a performance of the national designated Important Intangible Folk Culture Asset, Kurokawa No (Noh play).ssentials of Shinto: an analytical guide to principal teachings 著者: Stuart D. B. Picken

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