Nakatomi Clan - History

History

The Nakatomi was an influential clan in Classical Japan. Along with the Inbe clan, the Nakatomi were one of two priestly clans which oversaw certain important national rites, and one of many to claim descent from divine clan ancestors "only a degree less sublime than the imperial ancestors". It is said that soon after the beginning of Jimmu's reign, a Master of Ceremonies (saishu) was appointed; and this office was commonly held by a member of the Nakatomi clan after the 8th century. Though their material holdings were not the most extensive, their spiritual and ritual importance placed the Nakatomi and Imibe second only to the Imperial House during their heyday.

One particularly important ritual which the head of the Nakatomi clan oversaw was the Ōharai purification rite, performed twice every year, in which the High Priest (of the Nakatomi clan) asked the kami to cleanse the spirits of all of the people of their impurities.

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