Ritual Day (祭日)
A ritual day is a day on which an important religious rite is performed. A ritual day generally refers to one of the following.
A day on which an imperial ritual is performed. A day on which a major or minor rite is conducted. Details are explained on this page.
A day on which the spirits of the departed are commemorated in Shinto. This is a day of ritual abstinence.
A day on which a Christian rite is performed according to the ecclesiastical calendar. This is a day of celebration.
A day on which a festival is celebrated at Shinto shrines.
Ritual days refer to the days of major or minor religious rites specified by Imperial Household Religious Rites Ordinance.
Since some of the major ritual days have been stipulated by law as national holidays, they are often called high days and holidays, combining the two meanings.
Currently, there is no legal ritual days in Japan as the Imperial Household Religious Rites Ordinance were abolished on May 2, 1947.
Major ritual days (under Articles 8 and 9 of the Imperial Household Religious Rites Ordinance)
On the major ritual days the Emperor himself performs the rites.
The following major rites are performed on specified dates.
Genshisai (the Festival of Origins) (January 3)
Kigensetsu sai (the rites for commemorating the founding of the nation through the accession of the first Emperor Jinmu) (February 11)
Jinmutenno sai (the rites for commemorating the demise of Emperor Jinmu) (April 3)
Kannamesai (The First Fruits Festival) (October 17)
Niinamesai (The Harvest Festival) (November 23 and 24)
The following major rites are conducted on unspecified dates.
Shuki koreisai (the Autumn Commemoration for the Imperial Spirits) / Shuki shindensai (the Autumn Thanksgiving) (the Autumn Equinox Day)
Senteisai Memorial Ceremony for the previous emperor (on the anniversary of his demise)
Memorial Ceremony for Emperor Meiji (July 30) during the Taisho period
Shikinensai Memorial Ceremony for the spirits of the three imperial ancestors preceding the last emperor
Shikinensai Memorial Ceremony for the preceding empress
Shikinensai Memorial Ceremony for the emperor's deceased mother
(The Shikinensai Memorial Ceremony is held three, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, and one hundred years after the death of an emperor, with subsequent ceremonies every hundred years).
Minor ritual days (under Articles 20 and 21 of the Imperial Household Religious Rites Ordinance)
On the minor ritual days the emperor himself performs the obeisances and the Shotencho (Head Officiant) performs the rites.
The following minor rites are conducted on specified dates.
Saitansai (the New Year's Festival) (January 1)
Kinensai (the rites performed to pray for a bountiful harvest) (February 17)
The following minor rites are performed on unspecified dates.
Mikagurasai (the Festival of Kagura or Formal Ritual Dancing at the Imperial Palace) (mid-December)
Tenchosetsu sai (the reigning emperor's birthday)
November 3 during the Meiji period
August 31 during the Taisho period
April 29 during the Showa period
Reisai Festival for the spirits of the three imperial ancestors preceding the last emperor
Reisai Festival for the previous empress
Reisai Festival for the emperor's deceased mother
Shikinensai Memorial Ceremony for spirits of past emperors from Emperor Suizei to the four emperors preceding the last