By Julia Hollingsworth
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito will take part in a ritual feast with a sun goddess on Thursday night as part of a centuries-old ceremony to celebrate his ascension to the throne.
But not everyone is on board with the ritual, which has been criticized for violating the constitutional separation of religion and state.
Since he formally ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the start of May, Naruhito has been undertaking a series of ceremonies and rites. On Thursday night, he will take part in a mystical, 2.7 billion-yen ($248 million) ritual known as “Daijosai” — or “rite of great feasting” — which will see him sharing a banquet with the Shinto deity Amaterasu, the sun goddess traditionally claimed by the Japanese Imperial family as one of its divine ancestors.