Imperial Offerings

Imperial Offerings

The Tennō often visits different areas of Japan, to open major events, or see the victims of natural disasters. This is a major part of his job. When he visits a prefecture in Japan, he almost always sends offerings to certain jinja, the ones that received state offerings before the end of the war, in each prefecture. These offerings are not widely reported, but Jinja Shinpō always has a detailed account. The word used to describe them strongly suggests that the offering is of money, but I have no idea how much.

The offerings are handed over to the chief priests of the jinja by one of the Tennō’s attendants, rather than by the Tennō in person, at the place where the Tennō is staying. That means that they have to be formally offered to the kami at the jinja later.

What is interesting is how little consistency there is in the matsuri that are held to present the Imperial offerings. Recently, the Tennō visited Fukui Prefecture, where there are eight jinja that get offerings. The offerings were handed over on September 28th.

Of these jinja, the two Wakasahiko Jinja (Upper and Lower) and Tsurugi Jinja held matsuri on October 1st, when they also held Tsukinami Matsuri (monthly festivals).

Fukui Jinja held the matsuri on October 10th, the day of its annual Grand Matsuri.

Kehi Jingū will hold a matsuri for it on the day of the Kan’namësai, October 17th.

Kanasakigū will hold the matsuri as part of its Mifunëyūkangensai on October 20th.

Fujishima Jinja will hold a special Grand Matsuri for it on October 25th, the day of its Autumn Grand Matsuri.

Finally, Fukui-ken Gokoku Jinja will present the offerings on November 2nd with the Autumn Grand Matsuri and Harvest Festival.

There have been articles in Jinja Shinpō suggesting that Jinja Honchō would like to impose some order on this, but that does not seem to be moving very quickly. I suspect that part of the reason is that most jinja seem to present the offerings alongside some other matsuri, so that a good number of people will be in attendance. If there isn’t one of those coming up soon, then the matsuri to present the offerings gets delayed. They might be able to define a standard form for the matsuri, but they are likely to have to leave the time at which it is held up to the jinja in question.

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