19 February 2018

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07/08/2017 JAPAN

The daughter of Emperor Akihito, named Supreme Priestess of Ise Sanctuary

Sayako Kuroda is the emperor's only daughter. She married designer Yoshiki Kuroda, losing her imperial title. She will replace Atsuko Ikeda, the Emperor's older sister, who served the temple for 29 years. Every 20 years the sanctuary is dismantled and rebuilt to accommodate the symbol of the Amaterasu deity in a new building.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Sayako Kuroda, daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, has assumed the office of Supreme Priestess at the sanctuary of Ise, the most important Shinto sanctuary in the country. Kuroda, 48, has officially replaced the 86-year-old Atsuko Ikeda, the Emperor's older sister, who served the sanctuary for 29 years after the imperial family called for her to be allowed retire.

Kuroda will visit the sanctuary as a representative of the Emperor during the festive events including the Kanname-sai, which is held each year in October, during which the crops are offered to the goddess of the sun, Amaterasu Omikami, Ancestral divinity of the imperial family. Kuroda has already played the role of a special priestess in the sanctuary of Ise between 2012 and 2013, providing support to her aunt Ikeda during Shikinen Sengu. The event takes place every 20 years and it is expected that the symbol of divinity will be transferred to a new building. To this end old buildings are dismantled and new ones are built. On that occasion, the Supreme Priestess leads the Shinto priests to the sacred shrine. The role has been taken by members of the imperial family since the end of World War II.

Sayako Kuroda, formerly Princess Nori, was born in 1969 and is the third and last daughter, the only female, of the emperor. She married the designer Yoshiki Kuroda on November 15, 2005, thus losing the imperial title and abandoning the Imperial Dynasty, as required by law, as married to a non-noble husband. Princess Nori studied and graduated in Japanese language and literature. She later became an ornithologist and a university researcher.

The sanctuary of Ise is located in the Prefecture of Mie (Kansai, Honshu Island). It is considered the most sacred site of Shintoism and consists of a complex of 123 shrines. The current buildings, built in 2013, represent the 62nd reconstruction, the next is scheduled for 2033. Access to the area is supervised by the Supreme Priestess where the Sacred Mirror depicting Amaterasu is guarded is forbidden to lay people and tourists are allowed to see nothing more than the roofs of the central buildings, hidden behind three high wooden fences.

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