Japan's Emperor has attended the first of two Imperial banquets as part of the main rite of the Daijosai, or Great Thanksgiving Ceremony, after his enthronement.
The first Grand Banquet, called Daikyo-no-gi, was held at the Imperial Palace on Saturday. People who attended Friday's Daijokyu-no-gi, or Daijokyu Halls rite, were invited to attend.
They included Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Speaker and President of both chambers of the Diet, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and members of the Diet.
Emperor Naruhito entered the Homei-den State Banquet Hall shortly after noon and stood with Empress Masako in front of a large silk screen adorned with paintings of good-luck objects such as pine trees.
The Emperor said in a speech that he was pleased to welcome the guests for the banquet after performing the Daijokyu-no-gi rite. He said he would like to pray for the happiness of the people and the continued development of the country.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a remark on behalf of the guests.
The Imperial couple then sipped rice wine made from rice grown in two paddies in Tochigi and Kyoto Prefectures along with the attendees and the two men who own the paddies. Rice harvested from the paddies and other dishes were also served.
Members of the Imperial Household Agency's music department performed traditional Japanese songs and dance, and also a dance specially created in honor of Tochigi and Kyoto prefectures.
The second banquet is scheduled for Monday.