Imperial Couple visit Ise Shrine

Kyodo

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture on Wednesday, following the ceremony last October to transfer the shrine deity to a new building.

During their visit to the shrine, the Imperial jewel and sword, two of the family’s three sacred treasures, were moved out of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace for the first time since they made a similar trip 20 years ago. The other treasure, a mirror, is always kept at Ise Shrine.

In the morning, the Emperor and Empress entered the shrine’s Geku compound, which is dedicated to Toyouke Omikami, the god responsible for food, clothing and shelter.

The couple planned to visit the Naiku compound, which enshrines Amaterasu Omikami, worshipped as the ancestral deity of the Imperial family, in the afternoon.

Before World War II, emperors brought the sacred treasures with them when they stayed outside the Imperial Palace for at least one night.

The custom ended after the war in light of the Constitutional principle of separating government and religion as well as security concerns.