Building approval from the Gods 神様がくれる建築許可

New build family home for Mr. Y in Yokosuka

–  Building a post and beam house using traditional Japanese construction methods –

Part 2: Jichinsai (Ground-breaking ceremony)

IMG_3603Japan’s native religion ‘Shinto’ is founded on the animistic belief that all material objects, plants and natural phenomena contain a divine spirit or ‘Kami’ as they are called in Japanese. This concept is captured by the Japanese phrase ‘八百万の神’ (Yaoyorozu no kami – lit. eight million gods) which idiomatically expresses the uncountable number of Shinto gods.

Given this abundance of gods, it is inevitable that some of them will need to be appeased before building a house. You could say it is a bit like getting building approval from the local government only on a more spiritual level. This is why we conduct the ‘地鎮祭’ (Jichinsai) ceremony which is the Japanese equivalent of a ground-breaking ceremony. The purpose of the Jichinsai is to receive divine permission for using the land while also praying for a safe construction and the prosperity of the family that will live in the house.

IMG_3611A local Shinto Priest is invited to conduct the ceremony. The priest performs various rites such as giving offerings to the gods, saying prayers and purifying the land. The client then breaks the first ground using a ceremonial spade or hoe. This ceremony allows both the carpenters and the client to consider the gravity of the undertaking on which they are about to embark.

This ceremony has a long history in Japan but it is by no means compulsory or enforced. Just like visiting a Shinto shrine on New Year’s Day, the jichinsai is deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture. There is no law saying Japanese people must conduct the ceremony but people just do it anyway. To not conduct the ceremony or to not celebrate the new year at the shrine would just feel strange.

Having said that, these days some people opt for a more simplified version of the Jichinsai or simply do not do it at all. Some might say that it is just a ceremony but I think there is something comforting in maintaining this part of Japanese culture so let’s keep the Jichinsai alive!

When it’s all said and done, the jichinsai is a good opportunity for the client to meet the carpenters before construction commences.




Part2: 地鎮祭



昔から新築工事を始める前に行われてきたこの儀式ですが、必ずやらなくてはいけないものではありません。みなさんは新年を迎えると、神社へお参りをしに行きますよね。それと同じようになぜか当たり前のように行われてきました。初詣をしなくてはならない。とか、地鎮祭をしなくてはならない。という法律がある訳でもないのに・・・ですので、ほとんどの方は地鎮祭を行っていると思いますが、やらなかったり、簡略化している方も最近は多いそうです。 でも日本の文化なので、やらないとなにか気持ち悪い気もしますよね。私たちはこの文化を受け継いでいきたいと考えています。着工前にこの工事に携わる職人さん達と顔合わせをするいい機会でもあります!

#fujimototraditionalcarpentry #木組みの家 #地鎮祭