In the news: Nara dig yields oldest accession ruins to date

Step back in time: Researchers examine Thursday what is believed to be remains of the oldest structure used for an Imperial
accession ceremony, in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture. KYODO PHOTO

KASHIHARA, Nara Pref. (Kyodo) –
Remains apparently of the oldest structure used for an Imperial accession ceremony have been excavated at the Fujiwara Palace dig in the ancient capital of Fujiwara-kyo in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, the Nara National Institute for Cultural Properties said Thursday.
Traces of buildings and gates of the palace’s Daijokyu, a set of structures used for the ceremony, were discovered.
Fujiwara-kyo is believed to have been the capital between 694 and 710, before it was moved to Heijo-kyo, in what are now the cities of Nara and Yamatokoriyama.
Earlier, similar remains were found at the site of Heijo Palace in Heijo-kyo, the capital for most of the Nara Period (710-794) before it was moved to Heian-kyo in present-day Kyoto.
Archaeologists say the latest discovery could provide a key to the origin and transition of the Daijokyu.
Emperor Mommu, who reigned between 697 and 707, and Emperor Gemmei, whose reign lasted from 707 to 715, both ascended the throne at the Fujiwara Palace, but archaeologists have so far failed to identify which of the two used Fujiwara-kyo’s
Daijokyu, the institute said.
An Emperor performs a “niinamesai” rite every fall, offering fruits of the year’s new harvest to Shinto gods and goddesses.
The first niinamesai an Emperor performs after ascending to the throne is the Daijosai, one of the enthronement ceremonies performed at the Daijokyu.
Emperor Akihito performed the Daijosai and enthronement ceremonies in November 1990.

Japan Times Friday, July 2, 2010

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