Japan's Emperor Naruhito has performed the main rite of the Daijosai, or Great Thanksgiving Ceremony, an enthronement ritual performed once in an Emperor's reign.
At a little before 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Emperor, in white ceremonial dress, appeared in a corridor of the Daijokyu halls to perform the Daijokyu-no-gi rite. The rite is a prayer for peace and abundant harvests.
The complex was built specially for the ritual in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.
The Emperor proceeded slowly down a candle-lit corridor. He was escorted by chamberlains holding a sacred sword and jewel, two of the Imperial Regalia.
The Emperor entered the Yuki Hall shortly after 6:30 p.m. and began the first part of the ritual.
Empress Masako also appeared wearing a ceremonial multilayered white kimono and in a traditional hairstyle. She stepped into an adjacent hall and bowed toward the Yuki Hall before leaving.
The Emperor made an offering of rice and other food to the deities at the hall.
The Emperor then bowed and read out a text in classical Japanese, expressing gratitude to the deities. He also tasted the rice and other food himself.
The Emperor exited the Yuki Hall shortly after 9 p.m., marking the end of the first half of the Daijokyu-no-gi ritual.
The Emperor reappeared in a corridor of the Daijokyu complex around 12:30 a.m. on Friday and started the latter part of the ritual in the Suki Hall.
The Emperor placed offerings to the deities and tasted rice and other food, and offered a prayer for peace and abundant harvests, as he did in the Yuki Hall.
The second part ended around 3:15 a.m.
More than 400 people, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, were on hand to observe the ceremony.