Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Ground Breaking Ceremony
We conducted the ground breaking ceremony yesterday for the construction of our house. The ceremony is called a "Jichinsai" in Japanese, and it entails the fashioning of a mound of earth, which represents the plot of land to be built on and farmed, and a shrine alter. On our alter we placed salt, sake, rice, konbu, vegetables, fruits, and squid. We asked a Shinto priest to come and officiate. He came and invoked the appropriate gods, after which he blessed the four corners of the property with prayers and salt. Then at the mound with the bamboo stalk the property developer that we are consulting with about the house symbolically cleared the land by chopping the bamboo stalk with a wooden scythe. Then I symbolically prepared the land for planting by striking the mound three times with a wooden hoe. Finally the priest asked the gods to protect the property and family from pests, natural disaster, accident and disease, and to bless the people with happiness and prosperity.
It was a good investment in our property, if not only for the spiritual assurance to us that we are at least covered by the local deities.