THE FUNERAL OF EMPEROR HIROHITO : LAST RITES FOR AN EMPEROR
The Sojoden-no Gi and Taiso-no Rei, as the religious and secular rites in Emperor Hirohito’s funeral ceremony are called, were held at downtown park, Shinjuku Gyoen, which was originally an imperial garden. His entombment took place at the Musashi Imperial Cemetery on the outskirts of the capital. (Times listed are for Tokyo).
Friday, 7:30 a.m.-- Renso-Tojitsu Hinkyusai-no Gi, final ceremony at
the hinkyu, or “Imperial Place of Rest,” held at palace.
9:00 a.m.-- Jisha-Hatsuin-no Gi, ceremony in which emperor’s
990-pound coffin was loaded onto the jisha, or imperial hearse, at
south driveway of palace.
About 500 foreign dignitaries joined other guests at Shinjuku Gyoen
9:35 a.m.--Hearse left main palace gate in 40-car procession,
receiving 21-gun salute as it crossed Nijubashi Bridge. Military bands
played funeral music at 10 sites along route. Public also lined route
under heavy police guard.
10:15 a.m.--Cortege arrived at main gate of park, with another 21-gun
Coffin transferred to Sokaren, or “Onion Flower Palanquin,” a
23-by-10-foot litter made of Japanese cypress and painted with black
10:31 a.m.--Palanquin carried in solemn,
9-minute procession to
Sojoden, or funeral hall, with a retinue of attendants in traditional court costume.
Procession went through mammon, the curtain that separates viewing tents
where guests were seated and funeral
hall. Mammon closed and coffin
enshrined for ceremony.
10:53 a.m.-- Mammon opened, and
Sojoden-no Gi, or private religious
ceremony of the imperial house, began. Band and choir performed “Ruika,” a traditional
song of sorrow. Offerings of food and silk
brocade made at altar.
Address by chief of ceremony Torahiko Nagazumi, a schoolmate of late emperor.
11:10 a.m.--Emperor Akihito walked through torii, or ritual Shinto gate
that stood behind the mammon, and delivered onrui, or address of
mourning. Imperial family paid respects.
11:45 a.m.-- Mammon closed. During 13-minute intermission,
attendants removed the torii gate and ritual offerings to prepare for
public secular rites, thus satisfying postwar constitutional separation
of church and state.
11:58 a.m.-- Mammon reopened, and Taiso-no Rei, or secular
ceremony, began. Emperor and empress returned to funeral hall.
Noon--Akihito led mourners in one minute of silence, which
government requested nation also observe.
Addresses of condolence by Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita,
parliamentary and judicial leaders. Japanese and foreign dignitaries
1:10 p.m.-- Mammon closed and ceremony ended. Coffin transferred
1:40 p.m.-- Mammon reopened and cortege left Shinjuku Gyoen
park for 30-mile journey to Musashi Imperial City in Hachioji City.
3:15 p.m.--Cortege arrived at mountainside mausoleum site.
3:20 p.m.-- Ryosho-no Gi, or private entombment ceremony, began.
Foreign guests did not attend.
Coffin taken to Soyoden , or interment hall, behind another mammon curtain. Coffin, in three-hour process, lifted 99 feet up face of hillside
and placed in stone chamber along with epitaph. It will remain there
until construction of new imperial mausoleum in about a year.
7:30 p.m.-- Mammon at interment hall reopened and rituals resumed,
attended by emperor, empress and governmental representatives.
Members of imperial family paid final respects.
8:50 p.m.--Ceremonies concluded.