One must have first of all a solid foundation. (Sri Aurobindo)

New build family home for Mr. Y in Yokosuka

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

IMG_3658Part 3: Foundation work

So, with the purification rituals out of the way and the Gods given their dues, it is now time to get on with the business of laying the foundations.

Even though the house will be built with traditional Japanese carpentry techniques, the foundation itself is generally made from re-enforced concrete. Traditionally, Japanese building foundations were large natural stones on which the structural pillars stood. This technique is called Ishibadate (石場建て)and sometimes we still use it today, but that is a blog entry for another time.

As I’m sure you know, the foundation is basically the concrete base on which the wooden structure sits. We build the foundation and drop the house on top, so to speak.

But first things first. We need to determine a level and this process is called the Mizumori-yarikata (水盛りやり方).

We do this by placing upright wooden stakes called Mizukui (水杭)around the perimeter of the building site and then we attach a wooden board called a Mizunuki  (水貫)on one of the stakes. Using a laser-level we mark out the level on the Mizukui and Mizunuki. The level written on the Mizunuki is very important as this will be the reference point for all future surveying activities.

With the levels marked out, the concreters now have line to work from and can commence the site excavation in preparation for laying the concrete foundation.

Meanwhile, the carpenters go back to the workshop and get on with marking out the timber and cutting the joints…



IMG_3841Part 3: 基礎工事


まずはじめに[水盛やり方]をします。家の外周に水杭(みずくい)を打ち込み、それに 水貫(みずぬき)という木の板を水平に取り付けていきます。そしてその板に建物の基準となる線や情報を書き込んでいくのです。これらの作業を[水盛やり方]といいます。




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

New year, New staff, New project

Hello everyone, it’s been a year since I posted an article last time, apologies! Fortunately, we have been very busy with lots of projects, opening a restaurant and also welcomed new members in our team!!! Please check our profiles in ‘About’ section.

We are excited to introduce you all our new project.

New build family home for Mr. Y in Yokosuka

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

Part 1: Ground survey


For any new build, the ground survey is a vital for creating a building that will last the test of time. So what is a ground survey? Well, as the name suggest, a ground survey is the practice of investigating the qualities of the land on which the house will stand. By assessing the topography, soil, history of the ground we can then design and build suitable foundations.

So why is this important? Put simply, building a house is essentially the same as placing something extremely heavy on the ground. If the ground is soft then naturally, the building will sink and inevitably begin to lean. By conducting a ground survey we can determine how soft the ground is and accordingly, what needs to be done in order to strengthen the ground so that it may give stability to a building that can weigh in excess of 70 tons.

Luckily, the ground on which Mr Y’s house is to be built is very strong. If it wasn’t, we’d have to make many improvements and this is never a cheap exercise. This is why it is so important to choose wisely when purchasing the land for your new home.

Two things that you should consider when choosing land are height and history. In Japan high ground is generally the most stable. The Japanese people have known this for countless generations and therefore, it is common to see the remnants of old foundations on vacant land situated on high ground. As the years go by this ground becomes stronger and stronger.

Gravity dictates that water will pool at the lowest point of a given topography and so low ground is generally soft and muddy. In Japan, low ground that is close to rivers and swamps has traditionally been given over to agriculture.


Having said that, it isn’t always true that high ground is strong ground and this is where history is important. Even high ground, when recently excavated is far weaker than ground that has been continually built upon for thousands of years.

To those of you thinking about building a house, my advice is this: while layout and fittings are important, in the first instance, it’s a good idea to give serious consideration to the ground on which the house will be built.

It’s only started, stay tuned on the progress 🙂





Part1 地盤調査