This lecture examines Japan’s 2019 enthronement ceremonies in historical perspective. Spectacular ceremonies give an impression of the monarchy’s timeless continuity, seamlessly linking the present to an ancient past, and masking the historical contingencies of duelling courts and lines of succession, and the late medieval suspension of most court ritual for two centuries. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, new forms of enthronement ritual were designed to project new images of the emperor and Japan’s place in the world. Significant innovations continue in 2019, in the enthronement ceremonies for Emperor Naruhito that are being performed this year.
Helen Hardacre is Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society, Harvard University. She is the founding director of the Reischauer Institute Research Project on Constitutional Revision in Japan. Her publications include The Religion of Japan's Korean Minority (1984), Lay Buddhism in Contemporary Japan: Reiyūkai Kyōdan (1984), Kurozumikyō and the New Religions of Japan (1986), Shinto and the State, 1868-1988 (1989), Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan (1997), Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Japan: A Study of the Southern Kanto Region, Using Late Edo and Early Meiji Gazetteers (2002), and Shinto, A History (2016). Her current research projects include a study of Japanese enthronement.
This event belongs to the following series: The Evans-Wentz Lectureship