Empress Masako feeds silkworms in imperial sericulture tradition
Kyodo -- May 12
Empress Masako fed mulberry leaves to silkworms at the Imperial Palace on Monday, marking her first act of sericulture, an imperial tradition passed down since the late 19th century.

At a ceremony called "Goyosan Hajime no Gi" held to mark the start of the year's silk-farming activities, Empress Masako fed shredded mulberry leaves to silkworms at the Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery, according to an official of the Imperial Household Agency. The ceremony was closed to the public.

The empress would normally be assisted by five people but only one was on hand due to the coronavirus outbreak, and she will only be raising one breed of silkworm, the Koishimaru, which is indigenous to Japan.

The empress is carrying on the tradition from former Empress Michiko, following the abdication of Emperor Akihito on April 30 last year. Emperor Naruhito ascended the throne the next day.

Empress Masako did not engage in silk farming last year.

The imperial sericulture tradition dates back to 1871 when then Empress Shoken began silk farming to promote what was recognized as an important industry at that time, according to the agency.

皇后さまは明治時代から続く蚕の飼育を初めて引き継がれました。  皇后さまは皇居で「御養蚕始の儀」に臨み、明治時代以降の皇后が取り組んできた蚕の飼育を引き継がれました。この儀式は飼育を始めるにあたり、神に祈るもので、皇后さまはさらに、孵化(ふか)した蚕に餌(えさ)を与える「お掃立て」と呼ばれる作業をされたということです。去年は陛下の即位があり、この行事は行われませんでした。関係者によりますと、今年は感染症対策で泊まり込みで飼育する職員を減らしたことから品種を1つに絞ったということです。
News sources: Kyodo, ANNnewsCH
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