Begin forwarded message:
From: Elliot Waldman >
Date: May 26, 2016 at 11:30:38 AM GMT+9
Subject: Pre-set pool report: shrine visit
At 9:35, the pre-set pool team was escorted across Ujibashi, the bridge leading into the main sanctuary, to wait for the visiting party to arrive. In typical orderly Japanese fashion, the twenty-or-so photogs in our group drew lots to see who'd get first dibs on riser positions. Before crossing over, we could see crowds of onlookers gathered at the edge of the security perimeter.
Today, the leaders will be visiting the Naiku, or main sanctuary, of Ise-Jingu. The Jingu refers to the broader complex of 125 shrines set on a plot of land roughly equal to the size of Paris, but of those, the most important site is the Naiku, which enshrines Amaterasu-omikami, the ancestral deity of the Japanese imperial family. The Jingu is roughly 2,000 years old, and since the year 690, the main elements have been rebuilt and replaced every 20 years in a ceremony known as Shikinen-sengu. That includes rebuilding the entire bridge and all the torii gates and many of the shrines. Your pooler is told that on those occasions, the wood from the innermost sanctuary building is repurposed for use in the torii gate that guards the entrance to the naiku, and thus marks the border between the holy world and the profane.
At 10:45, the leaders began crossing the bridge one by one after being greeted at the entrance by Prime Minister Abe. They were met at the other side of the bridge by the Supreme Priest and Deputy Supreme Priest of the Jingu. President Hollande of France crossed first, accompanied by a white-robed priest and trailed by his delegation. The other leaders followed in similar fashion: President Juncker of the EU Commission, President Tusk of the EU Council, Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada, Prime Minister Renzi of Italy, Prime Minister Cameron of the UK, and Chancellor Merkel of Germany, in that order. Lastly, following a 15-minute delay, President Obama and Prime Minister Abe crossed together at 11:12. The two leaders walked side-by-side and President Obama shook hands and bowed to the Supreme Priest and Deputy Supreme Priest. Your pooler couldn't hear everything he said, but he did say "Thank you. Thank you very much."
There will be press coverage of two other aspects of today's visit- a tree-planting ceremony (which was not quite visible from where your pooler stood) and a photo-op before they enter the inner sanctum.
Producer, Washington DC bureau
Tokyo Broadcasting System