The sacred traditions of a Japanese enthronement ceremony

Japan's Emperor Naruhito will take part in a traditional enthronement ceremony on Oct. 22. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

The sacred traditions of a Japanese enthronement ceremony

DUBAI: The world’s oldest monarchy, Japan witnessed earlier this year the historic abdication of Emperor Akihito.

He became the nation’s first ruler in nearly 200 years to step down from his imperial seat, known as the Takamikura (Chrysanthemum Throne). Next in line to rule the Japanese people and the canopied throne is his son Naruhito, 59.

On Oct. 22, a sophisticated enthronement ceremony will take place. Royals, dignitaries and heads of state from 195 countries are expected to attend this major event.

By the early 20th century, the enthronement ceremony was usually held in the historically courtly city of Kyoto, the former capital of Japan.

This meticulous and somewhat private affair is meant to introduce the new emperor to the world. It is deeply embedded in traditional rituals that go back many years.

On the day of the ceremony, which will take place in the prestigious main hall of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace and last about 30 minutes, the traditionally dressed Naruhito will announce his accession to the revered sun deity Amaterasu Omikami of Shinto, the most practiced religion in Japan.

As Naruhito visits ancestral shrines on this day, he is accompanied with a sacred sword and an unseen jewel — denoting his legitimacy as emperor — that were passed down to him from his father.

“By definition, the emperor is an intermediary or a direct descendent … of the highest (deity) in the Japanese pantheon … It’s a religious and not just a political ceremony,” Dr. Griseldis Kirsch, a senior lecturer of contemporary Japanese culture at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, told Arab News.

Representing the Japanese public, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will congratulate the new emperor by delivering three “Banzai” (“long live the emperor”) cheers to the new imperial couple.

Later on, on Nov. 10, a special procession will take place in the streets of Tokyo. Greeting thousands of flag-waving citizens, Naruhito and his wife Masako will be ferried around in a bespoke convertible Toyota Century limousine from the Imperial Palace to their new residence, the Akasaka Estate.

The warm tradition of meeting the celebratory masses was first introduced by Naruhito’s father.

Decoder

What's Takamikura?

It's what they call the seat of the emperor of Japan. The Takamikura or Chrysanthemum Throne is located in the capital, Tokyo. Emperor Naruhito took over as Japan's monarch on May 1, 2019, after the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito. An enthronement ceremony will take place on Oct. 22. 2019. Naruhito is Japan's 126th emperor.


US celebrities Janelle Monae, Seth Rogen and more donating to Minneapolis protesters’ bail

Updated 45 min 59 sec ago

US celebrities Janelle Monae, Seth Rogen and more donating to Minneapolis protesters’ bail

DUBAI: US stars Seth Rogen, Steve Carell and Janelle Monae are among the high-profile celebrities donating money to help Minneapolis demonstrators who have been arrested make bail.

This week, protests erupted across the United States after a video, circulated online, showed a Minneapolis police officer  kneeling on an African American man’s neck and ignoring his pleas of “please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man.” 

The man, George Floyd died on Monday, while pleading for air as the officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes.

People have been posting screenshots across Twitter and Instagram  showing donations made to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a nonprofit organization which pays bail for low-income citizens who can’t afford it.

Writer Lincoln Michel recently started a chain on Twitter asking people to match his donation to the organization where it eventually gained the attention of high profile celebrities, including Steve Carell, Seth Rogan, Ben Schwartz and many others who are donating in response to Michel’s Tweet. 

Musicians like Kali Uchis, Noname, Kehlani and Unknown Mortal Orchestra also posted screenshots of their donations to the freedom fund, too.

Floyd's death and subsequent demonstrations sparked a considerable amount of debate and outrage online, with celebrities like half-Palestinian models Bella and Gigi Hadid, part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik and musician Beyonce demanding justice for Floyd online.