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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Daily Life
Jichinsai
"Ground-purification rites." Also read "tokoshizume no matsuri." At the commencement of civil engineering or architectural projects, this ritual is performed to pray that the project proceeds safely and smoothly, and to pray that no structural problems arise after its completion. Other names for this ritual include jikanjō, shizume, jibiki, jimatsuri, chinsai, and chinsha. This ritual is performed before the preliminary foundation-laying stage of a given project. At the Grand Shrines of Ise, the pre-construction jichinsai rite is called chinchisai and is also repeated after a project is finished, a rite referred to as kō-chinchisai ("post-completion chinchisai"). The saijin, or kami being petitioned in the rite, were once the five ikasuri-no-kami (protectors of court lands): Ikui no kami, Sakui no kami, Tsunagai no kami, Hahiki no kami, and Asuwa no kami. In most cases today, however, the rite refers obliquely to "the kami who controls this land," thereby directing the prayer to the specific kami of a given land without specifying the kami's name. There are also several cases in which the saijin is Ubusunakami ("Protector kami of the life-giving land") or Ōjinushigami ("Great protector kami of the land"). Generally, a hand washing ritual precedes the ceremony. The ceremony itself begins with a purification rite and a rite beseeching the kami to descend. After that, the shinsen, or offering of food and drink, is made to the kami and the ritualist(s) recites a norito liturgy. Then they purify the site and scatter more offerings. Thereafter, the following three rituals performed in succession, the hallmark of the jichinsai ritual. First, a young girl performs the kusakarihajime (first ground-clearing) using a ritually pure sickle to start cutting the grass. Next, the girl performs the rite of ugachizome (first ground-breaking) using a ritually pure hoe to dig a hole. Third, the assistant ritualist performs the ritual burial of the izumemono (article of enshrinement) in the hole, but in fact the actual izumemono is buried after the ritual is over. These days, the article buried is usually an iron human figurine, an iron mirror, or a small iron dagger, but on occasion an iron spear, iron shield, or jewel may also be used. The ceremony concludes with a bow of thanksgiving, the scattering of more sacred food and drink offerings, and the performance of the rite for the kami's ascent.

— Endo Jun
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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