Shikinen Sengu is a long-standing tradition in Japan where the Grand Shrine is rebuilt and renewed every 20 years. The tradition dates back over 1,300 years and is practiced in the most prominent Shinto shrines, such as Ise Jingu, located in Mie prefecture.
What is Shikinen Sengu?
Shikinen Sengu is a unique tradition that involves the rebuilding and renewal of the Grand Shrine of Ise Jingu every 20 years. The tradition has been practiced since the Heian period and is rooted in the belief that the gods residing in the shrine need a new home every two decades. During the renewal process, the shrine's main building and other structures are rebuilt using traditional methods and materials.
The Significance of Shikinen Sengu
Shikinen Sengu is considered one of the most important events in Japan's religious calendar, as it represents the continuity of the Japanese culture and spirituality. It is also an opportunity for the Japanese people to show their respect and devotion to the gods. The tradition is a source of pride for many Japanese people, and it has become an essential part of their cultural identity.
The Preparation for Shikinen Sengu
The preparation for Shikinen Sengu begins 6 years before the renewal ceremony. The process includes the selection of trees for the shrine's construction, which is done with great care and attention to detail. The trees are then cut down and stored until the actual rebuilding process begins. The rebuilding process takes around 8 years to complete, during which the shrine's main hall is closed to the public.
The Renewal Ceremony
The renewal ceremony is a significant event that attracts millions of people from all over Japan. The ceremony takes place over several days and involves various rituals and performances, including the Kagura dance, which is performed to entertain and appease the gods. The ceremony culminates in the transfer of the deity from the old shrine to the new one. This is done using a procession of priests, who carry the deity in a special box to the new shrine.
Shikinen Sengu Today
Today, Shikinen Sengu remains an essential part of Japan's cultural heritage, and it continues to be practiced in the most prominent Shinto shrines. The tradition reflects Japan's respect for nature and the belief in the spiritual connection between humans and the gods. Shikinen Sengu also represents the continuity of Japan's unique culture and traditions, and it is a source of pride and identity for the Japanese people.