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A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Daijosai at the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

On a recent walk around Tokyo Station, I decided to head over to the Imperial Palace to get some photographs, but chose to drop into the East Gardens next door first.  On my way into the gardens I noticed a lot of police officers, construction workers and vehicles moving around. It looked very exciting. Immediately, it got me thinking that something big was happening.

After making my way through the lower areas and arriving on the lawa, I found out why.  There was a construction area! Inside a big fence, a shrine was being built. There could be no mistaking it; a torii (a gate found at Shinto shrines) was in the middle of it all.  I was very intrigued. 

An Imperial Guard said they were constructing the Daijokyu, a temporary building where the new emperor offers rice to the gods for a good harvest.  While his enthronement ceremony is scheduled for October 22, this religious ceremony, Daijosai, will be carried out at the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace on November 14 and 15. 

Apparently the project is enormously expensive, so there have been efforts to reduce costs.  From the fence I could see some buildings, some seemingly pre-fabricated (don’t trust on that one though as I was far away) and where thatch was used in previous ceremonies, it’s has been said that simple wood will be used this time in most cases.  Still, it looked very impressive.

If you have any plans to visit the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace until mid-to-late November 2019 please remember you won’t be able to enjoy them in their entirety.  However, you will be able to see something that you will probably never see again. Get there and see some Tokyo history in the making!