國學院大學
國學院大學デジタルミュージアム

Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1 5. Rites and Festivals
カテゴリー2 State Rites
Title
Text "Celebration of the longevity of heaven". The old term designating the emperor's birthday, deriving from a similar observance in Tang China. It was a religious holiday from the early Meiji period to just after World War II. The ceremony performed on this day at the Three Sacred Halls (kyūchū sanden) is called the tenchōsetsusai, or Rite for the Longevity of Heaven (classified as a "minor rite" shōsai in the Ordinance on Imperial Household Rituals, while the holiday is called the Day of Celebration of the Longevity of Heaven (tenchōsetsu). The first record of a banquet in honor of an emperor's birthday dates from 775, when court officials gathered to felicitate the Kōnin Emperor. Tenchō setsu was introduced as such after the Meiji Restoration, its first celebration on September 22, 1868 (November 3 in the new calendar) becoming a model for later celebrations. On the day of an emperor's birthday, the tenchōsetsusai takes place in the Three Sacred Halls, and rituals for the Celebration of the Longevity of Heaven (tenchōsetsu no gi) are performed at the palace. After having received felicitations from the imperial family, the emperor proceeds to the Toyo-no-akari Hall where he received congratulatory greetings from high-level ministers and ambassadors. A celebratory banquet follows. Along with the New Year and the Celebration of the Origin of the Imperial Reign (Kigen setsu), Tenchō setsu represented one of the "three major holidays"(sandaisetsu), to which Meijisetsu was added in 1927, the number rising to "four major holidays" (shidaisetsu). These holidays were celebrated by primary schools and various other groups throughout the country. Emperor Taishō's Tenchō setsu was August 31 (though it was changed to October 31 since the original date fell during the summer holiday season). Emperor Shōwa's Tenchō setsu was April 29. In 1948, the name of the Tenchō setsu  was changed to "the Emperor's Birthday" under the Public Holiday Law. The current Heisei emperor's birthday is December 23. Emperor Shōwa's birthday was renamed "Green Day" (midori no hi) and has been a national holiday since 1990.
— Takeda Hideaki
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Tenchō setsu