April, 2018

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by Harumi Okochi.
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Some months ago my husband suddenly declared that he would build a small house for his retirement. I did not agree. We have houses here and there, old, but still usable. After a long battle, he won. It is always the case.
Planning started. At the north end of our main garden, there was a small patch of wasted land. This was enlarged, heightened, and made solid.

It is a Japanese custom to do a ceremony called Jichinsai at a new construction.
Jichinsai is a ritual in Shintoism. We ask the God of the land to let us use His land for our new house. We also ask for His protection from disasters like earthquakes, typhoons, or other natural calamities.
Even when companies build a very modern, huge technological building, they do this ceremony. Nobody denies it as a superstition.
Priest is asked to come. Every preparation done.

Our case was a very small Jichinsai, and I hope you will enjoy the photos of the ceremony.

   This is the land for the new house.
   4 bamboo trees make a square at the center of the construction site. This is the holy space where God comes to us.
A rice-stalk rope goes round the bamboos to separate the sacred space.
A tree was set inside this separation.
This is called Himorogi, on which God comes down.
   Preparation was done.
There is a road between this land and the houses you see .
Our land is 2 meters higher than the road.
Stools were set for us.
   On the table before the God's tree, we put a sea-bream, a big bottle of sake, salt, rice, 5 kinds of fruit, 5 kinds of vegetable.
These are the feast for God.
   The priest announces to start the ritual.
   First of all, the priest calls to the God in Heaven to come down onto the tree there.
Then he tells God who is going to build a new house. He asks for permission, and also ask for the protection.
It is like a chanting. Old language which we sometimes do not understand.
   He bows and tries to treat God with these food.
   He also pours sake to the earth to purify it.
   He scatters salt and rice around the sacred space.
   Then, the house owner and his wife step forward and bow.
We gave a holy twig Sakaki to God. On the Sakaki twig, a white paper cut into a special figure is tied to mean purification.
   Our son, as the representative of Yoyokaku, gives the twig too.
   And the carpenter does the same thing.
The priest says the prayer again to send the God back to Heaven.
After the ritual, we do a small eating, called Naorai.
And the Jichinsai ends.

The sky was clear. It was a happy fortune-telling for our new house.

The new house will be finished 3 or 4 months later.
It is a humble house, but it will be the warm nest for my husband' s
old age. He is 84 years old now.
Me? Secret.

Thank you for joining us.
We wish you good health and happiness!
See you next month. 
Harumi Okochi
mail to: info@yoyokaku.com