New emperor’s rainy enthronement ceremony takes place at Imperial Palace while the sword’s regular home experiences blue skies and sunshine.

Japan’s imperial succession procedure is a multi-stage affair. Back on May 1, an ascension ceremony was held for Emperor Naruhito as his father, Akihito, abdicated the monarchy, but another ceremony, the enthronement ceremony, was held for the new emperor on October 22 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

All through the night of October 21, the capital experienced heavy rainfall, which continued into the gray, wet morning that Tokyoites woke up to. Such dreary weather may seem ironic on the auspicious day, but it turns out that the rainfall was actually entirely appropriate, and, according to legend, even inevitable.

▼ Emperor Naruhito at the enthronement ceremony

As part of the ceremony’s proceedings, the new emperor is presented with Japan’s imperial regalia, known as the Three Sacred Treasures. These consist of the mirror Yata no Kagami, the curved jewel Yasakuni no Magatama, and the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi.

▼ Conceptual images of the Three Sacred Treasures (the actual items have never been publicly displayed)

Kusanagi no Tsurugi literally means “Grass-Cutting Sword,” a reference to fabled use by Yamato Takeru, legendary ancestor of Japan’s emperors, to cut away grass that had set on fire in an attempt on his life. However, the sword is said to have existed for generations before it came into Yamato Takeru’s possession, and originally had a different name: Ame no Murakumo no Tsurugi, meaning “Sword of Heavenly Gathering Clouds.”

Suddenly Tokyo’s rainy weather on the day of the enthronement ceremony seems a lot more significant.

But the noteworthy weather on October 22 doesn’t end there. While the sword was transferred to Tokyo for the ceremony, ordinarily it’s kept at Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. So on the morning of the ceremony, when the Sword of Heavenly Gathering Clouds was now at the Imperial Palace, roughly 350 kilometers (217 miles) away, what was the weather like in Nagoya?

Sunny, with hardly a cloud in the sky.

The alignment of legend and meteorology wasn’t lost on Japanese Twitter users, who posted comments including:

“Japan is a country of real fantasy…”
“The Sword of Heavenly Gathering Clouds is like an amazing magic blade.”
“They say it’s a sign of good fortune if it rains during a ceremony where the Sword of Heavenly Gathering Clouds is used, and it’s giving me goosebumps.”
“There’s something stirring about seeing an ancient legend happen again.”

So while most of the time Japan is like anywhere else in that most people woud prefer a sunny day to a rainy one, on this special occasion those in the know didn’t mind using their umbrellas while the ceremony was using its sword.

Source: Twitter/天叢雲剣
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Wikipedia/Nesnad
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