Saitansai (歳旦祭)

Saitansai (a Shinto ritual to mark the beginning of New Year followed by a special sharing of sake (rice wine) in the barrel and a mochi (rice cake) pounding ceremony) is one of the holidays designated by the Koshitsu Saishi Rei (Imperial household religious rites ordinance) as a festal day, which were celebrated before World War II. At present, it is a religious service to celebrate the beginning of New Year, which is held at the Three Shrines in the Imperial Court (Kashikodokoro (Palace Sanctuary), Korei-den (Imperial Ancestor's Shrine), Shin-den (Shrine) on the first day of the first month of the year (New Year's Day) in New calendar (solar calendar).

On New Year's Day, following Shihohai (a Shinto ceremony held on New Year's Day in which the Emperor pays respect to the deities in all quarters) which the Emperor presides at in the southern courtyard of Shinka-den (Deity Venerating Hall), the ceremony which the ceremonial staff presides at is undertaken in the early morning of the same day from 5:30 A.M. at the Three Shrines in the Imperial Court as follows: Norito (Shinto Prayer) is dedicated by the ceremonial staff, then the Emperor, after finishing Shihohai at around 5:40, gives a prayer in Korozen no goho (an attire dyed grave ochre with Japanese wax tree as a base and coated with raspberry red and bluish purple (the supreme color), which the Emperor puts on when he perform an important ritual), and in continuation, the Imperial Prince in Oni no ho (a bright orange colored attire dyed with gardenia fruit and safflower (noble color), which the Crown Prince puts on in a ritual) gives a prayer.

At Jingu (Ise-jingu Shrine) and other shrines all over the country, this is undertaken as a medium scale festival to pray wishing the prosperity of the imperial lineage as well as gokokuhojo (huge harvest of cereals) and the protection for the people.

[Original Japanese]