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Japan's emperor spends a night with a goddess

Draped in white, Japan's Emperor Naruhito arrived on Thursday night for the most religious ritual of his ascension to the throne.

It's called the "Daijosai" - or the great Thanksgiving festival -- in which he spends a symbolic night with the sun goddess of Shinto religion.

In this case the sun goddess is his wife, the empress.

It's said to be a feast, where the emperor offers food to the goddess to seal his new status.

But this ceremony is polarizing in Japan. The ritual has prompted a range of lawsuits in the past.

Some say it's too reminiscent of the country's militaristic past, when the emperor was considered divine.

Similarly, past emperors were rumoured to have sex with the goddess, dating to before World War Two.

And there are also charges that it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Because this elaborate ceremony with 400 dignitaries, including the prime minister, is paid in taxpayer money for a whopping $25 million.

Preparations began months ago, with the construction of a special shrine compound within the palace grounds.