Observed byJapan
Significanceharvest ritual
DateNovember 23
Next time23 November 2024 (2024-11-23)
Related toLabor Thanksgiving Day, Daijosai

The Niiname-sai (新嘗祭, also read Shinjō-sai and Niiname-no-Matsuri) is a Japanese harvest ritual.

Ritual ceremonies of the Imperial Palace
Shihohai [ja]・Saiten-sai [ja]
Genshi-sai [ja]
Start of Musical Performance [ja]
Emperor Showa Festival (Previous Emperor's Festival [ja])
Emperor Kōmei festival[a]
The Emperor's Birthday
Spring Kōreisai・Spring Shrine Festival [ja]
Jimmu Festival [ja]Kōrei-den Kagura
Empress Kōjun festival[a]
Yoori [ja]Ōharae-shiki
Emperor Meiji festival[a]
Autumn Kōreisai・Autumn Shrine Festival [ja]
Kannamesai Festival
Kashiko dokoro [ja] Sacred Kagura
Emperor Taishō festival[a]
Yoori [ja]Ōharae-shiki

The ritual is celebrated by the Emperor of Japan, who thanks the Shinto deities for a prosperous year and prays for a fruitful new year. It takes place near the Three Palace Sanctuaries of in the imperial palace and several large Shinto shrines. The first Niiname-sai for a new emperor is known as the Daijō-sai (大嘗祭), and is part of his enthronement ceremonies.

In pre-modern Japan, the date of the Niiname-sai was moveable, taking place on the last Day of the Rabbit of the eleventh month of the old Japanese lunar calendar, but in the Meiji period the date was fixed at November 23, and this date became a national holiday, Labor Thanksgiving Day, in the Shōwa period after World War II.

The Engishiki specified imperial involvement with four festivals, the Kinen-sai, the two Ōharae-shikis and Niiname-no-Matsuri for tribute.[1]: 36 

In ancient times, people held domestic rites called Kinen-sai in the February or April and Niinamesai in November. During these rites, people worshiped their ancestors, the god of food, and the hearth deity. They believed the spirits of their ancestors (Oyagami) came to them through the rice.[2]


During the Niiname-sai, an ancient Shinto ritual that says thanks for the crops of the previous year[3] and prays for fruitfulness in the following year,[3] the Emperor of Japan says thanks to his gods for the fall harvest. It is held in the Imperial Palace,[3] as well as other shrines including Ise Grand Shrine[3] and Izumo Shrine.[3]


Traditionally, it was held on the last Day of the Rabbit in the eleventh month of the old lunar calendar.[3]

Since the Meiji era the date has been fixed on November 23,[3] which corresponds to the modern public holiday Labor Thanksgiving Day,[3] which was introduced in 1948.

As a kigo, the name of the ritual is associated with winter.[4]


Niiname-sai is the common name of the festival, but the same kanji can also be read Jinshō-sai[3] or Niiname-no-Matsuri.[3] Niiname can also be read Niinae, Niinai, Niwanai, Niwanami or Nyūnami.[5]

The first Niiname-sai following the accession of a new emperor is called the Daijō-sai (大嘗祭, also read Ōname-Matsuri and Ōnie-no-Matsuri).[6]

In literature

Book 19 of the Man'yōshū includes six poems (numbered 4273 to 4278) composed on the 25th day of the eleventh month of 752, the "Niiname-kai poems".[5] The "nyūnami" is alluded to in one of the azuma-uta (songs of eastern Japan) included in Book 14.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d This is an example festival. The last three emperors have their festivals celebrated


  1. ^ Hardacre, Helen (2016-11-11). Shinto: A History (Illustrated ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-062171-1.
  2. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto詳細". 國學院大學デジタルミュージアム (in Japanese). Retrieved 2023-04-15.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Britannica Kokusai Dai-Hyakkajiten 2014.
  4. ^ Digital Daijisen 1998a.
  5. ^ a b c "國學院大學 デジタルミュージアム".
  6. ^ Digital Daijisen 1998.

Works cited