Groundbreaking ceremony


Ground-breaking ceremony (jichinsai )

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Observance


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Usually a Shinto ceremony for purifying a building site; a ground-breaking ceremony
..... "Earth Ceremony" ji matsuri

In Japan, purification ceremonies are performed before the commencement of all important events and functions. When a new home or building is to be constructed, a groundbreaking ceremony, which is called "earth pacifying ceremony", jichinsai is performed to pacify the earth deity and to purify the spot where construction will be carried out.

Before my own Daruma Do Hall was erected in 1997, our carpenter, who was in charge of the construction, called a Buddhist Mountain Ascetic (the carpenter knew about my interest in this kind of Buddhism, so he did not call the local shinto priest but this Yamabushi) to purify the field beside our home.
The carpenter also needed this ceremony to pray for the safe construction itself and the protection of the lives of our carpenters and workers.

We erected an altar outside with "offerings from the sea and the mountains" and some ceremonial rice wine.
The monk/priest came in full robes, with his conch/trumpet blowing away all evil spirits and shooting his magic arrows in the four directions. Purifying salt and sake was layed out in the four directions too and later a sip was taken by each of us. My husband and the carpenter then did the first dig into the purified ground.
A special meal for all ended this eventful morning ceremony. I felt all the evil demons had been blown away for miles and eons and the new Hall should be safe for at least my own lifetime !

Gabi Greve



The Jichinsai ceremony is a Shinto ritual intended to calm the kami (god) of the earth whenever a new building or other construction begins. It was/is believed that without going through the protocol of requesting permission from the earth kami, any building constructed would anger the kami and lead to it's destruction. Another purpose is to pray that the actual construction proceeds without any "incidents".

Even when Japanese construct buildings offshore (the construction of factories in China, Europe and the USA for example) a Jichinsai is inevitably held. The ceremony is not so much religious but more of a cultural more. There have been examples of court cases in Japan where the use of public funds to pay for Jichinsai for public works projects has been questioned due to the official (at least in terms of the US imposed constitution) separation of religion and state, but so far at least the courts have ruled that the Jichinsai is purely a social custom. In any case it would be difficult to say otherwise in a country where there are few clear boundaries on just about anything.
Read the full discription HERE
© www.yamasa.org

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地神 Earth Deity

in Ohaga/Japan

winter walk -
the gods of Japan
at my side

Look at our local Gods here:
Gabi Greve, Ohaga, Japan 2006

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

. Sake 酒 for rituals and festivals .


spring snow sprinkles
the earth god's
festival song

haru no yuki ji matsuri uta ni kakaru kana

by Issa, 1807

This haiku seems to refer to a song sung at a festival in honor of earthly deities; see Issa zenshuu (Nagano: Shinano Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1976-79) 2.392, note 3.

Tr. David Lanoue
chimatsuri chichinsai

ite tsuchi o tsuma ga kuwa uchi jichinsai

to purify our house lot
my wife ritually hoes ...

© Katayama Fuyou


ji matsuri no taiko no oto ni natsu no kusa

the sound of the drum
of the groundbreaking ceremony
and the green weeds of summer

© 古井一歩 / Furui Ippo
Tr. Gabi Greve

Related words

***** Gods of the Elements : 地神 Chijin, 地天 Chiten : God of Earth

***** Ta no Kami, God of the Rice Fields 田の神さま

***** . WKD : "Ground-purification rites" .

the five ikasuri-no-kami (protectors of court lands):

生井神 Ikui no kami, Protector of life
福井神 Sakui no kami, Bringer of good luck
綱長井神 Tsunagai no kami, Luck for fishing
波比岐神 Hahiki no kami, Protector of home and garden
阿須波神 Asuwa no kami, Protector of legs and travelling




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Gabi
Issa was a phenomenon, a treasure for all of us.
Thank you from India!