Taiso no rei (大喪の礼)

Taiso no rei means an Emperor's funeral which is conducted as an Imperial ceremony under the law of the Imperial House Act, Clause 25. A funeral held as a national ceremony is called 'Taiso no Rei' separately from 'Tenno Taiso Gi,' which is a funeral ceremony for the late Emperor held by the Imperial Court. Since Imperial ceremonies are held according to Shinto rules, the separation of religion and politics was taken into consideration when they performed the funeral ceremony for Emperor Showa, which was the first national funeral ceremony after the revision of the Constitution in 1947. They removed religious things such as torii (an archway to a Shinto shrine) after the 'Sojoden no Gi' within the 'Renso no Gi,' which is a part of the Imperial Court's private ceremony 'Tenno Taiso Gi,' in order to hold the national ceremony 'Taiso no Rei' after that.

Emperor Showa's funeral ceremony

Emperor Showa's funeral ceremony was held at the Shinjuku Imperial Gardens on February 24, 1989. After the funeral motorcade departed from the main gate of the Imperial Palace as the Japan Self-Defense Forces made a twenty-one gun funeral salute, it passed the Sakurada-mon Gate, the main gate of the Diet Building, Parliamentary Museum, Miyakezaka, Akasakamitsuke, Aoyama 1-chome, Gaienmae, and Aoyama 3-chome with playing the funeral music called 'Kanashimi no Kiwami' (a funeral march composed by Franz Eckert) before reaching the main gate of the funeral place at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Subsequently, in the Imperial Family's ceremony called Sojoden no Gi, the coffin was moved to the Sokaren (a palanquin for an emperor with a good omen decoration in a leek flower head shape on its rooftop) from the hearse before they formed a new funeral procession, and then the palanquin with the coffin inside was laid in state at the funeral hall after the procession arrived at the hall.

After that, the Imperial Family performed some private ceremonies such as Tensenpei (a Shinto rite to present Shinto offerings such as cloth, paper, and rope), the present Emperor's prayer, a speech called 'Onrui' (a condolence message by the Emperor), and prayer by the Empress, other Imperial Family members, and their relatives. After these Imperial Family ceremonies were finished and religious objects such as torii were removed from the funeral hall, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Keizo OBUCHI declared the national funeral ceremony's opening. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko walked to the front of the funeral hall to offer a one-minute silent prayer at noon, and the heads of the three powers (legislative, executive and judicial) such as the Prime Minister Noboru TAKESHITA expressed their condolences after prayer. A funeral procession was re-formed after prayer by heads of states, funeral envoys from other countries, and other attendants, and then they went to His Majesty's Mausoleum named the Musashino no Misasagi in the Musashino Imperial Graveyard via Yotsuya 4-chome, Shinjuku 3-chome, Shinjuku 4-chome, the Hatsudai exit of the Metropolitan Expressway No. 4 Shinjuku Route, and the Chuo Expressway Hachioji Interchange. In the graveyard, the Imperial Family's ceremony called 'Ryosho no Gi' was performed to deposit the Emperor Showa's coffin in the mausoleum.

There was a large attendance at the ceremony of Taiso no Rei, and they were from 164 countries, the European Communities, and 27 international organizations, including Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh from the United Kingdom, President George H. W. Bush from the United States of America, and President Francois Mitterrand from France. Japanese attendants at the ceremony were the Imperial family, executive government officials such as the heads of the three powers, local representatives such as prefectural governors, and representatives from every sector or industry of the society.

In Japan, the day when the ceremony was held became a national holiday (according to the 'Act on the National People's Day for the Emperor Showa Funeral' [Act No. 4 of 1989]). People flew a flag at half-mast throughout the country, and national TV and radio broadcasting stations (except NHK Educational Television and NHK Radio 2) organized special program schedules for the whole day with the voluntary replacement of TV commercials with advertisements of the Japan Ad Council. It was said that there was the most widespread hesitation of social activities on that day after the demise of Emperor Showa. Also, most shops and facilities were closed on that day.

[Original Japanese]