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Ise Jingū and modern emperorship

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Chapter Summary

Ise Jingū?s importance in Japanese society derives not only from its place in popular religion, but also from ceremonial history associated with emperorship. In the wake of the Meiji Restoration, as the modern state made visible the new emperor, the Inner Shrine (Naiku) in Ise was placed at the pinnacle of a state-sponsored Shinto hierarchy. In 1869 the Meiji Emperor made a pilgrimage to the Ise shrines, the first visit in nearly twelve centuries by a reigning monarch. In order to unify the new modern nation, the Meiji government drew upon existing imperial symbolism and ritual to create new ceremonial practices. The Meiji concept of Shinto as a nationally homogenous ritual practice was developed in legislation. The shikinen sengū has been performed since the late seventh century at intervals of twenty years.

Keywords: imperial symbolism; Ise Jingū; Ise shrines; Japanese society; Meiji Restoration; shikinen sengū; Shinto



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