Friday, 12 March 2010

Building a traditional house

Some friends of ours are having a new house built, after demolishing the old one, and yesterday the frame was raised. Nowadays a lot of houses here are built from pre-fabricated panels or room-units, but with traditional wood frame houses like this one (and ours), the whole frame is put up in one day. Yesterday morning there would have been only the concrete foundations, but by 5.30 it looked like this:

Next they'll do the roof. The external walls are one of the last parts to be completed!

Can you see something up on the highest part of the frame? It's a little shrine to bless the house, just set up temporarily for that evening. The decorations will be kept though, to continue to protect the house - ours are up in the loft.

In the picture below you might be able to make out a big bottle of sake in the bottom left of the photo. Just after this the carpenters went around pouring a little sake and sprinkling some salt (both symbolic of purity and blessing) onto each corner of the house.

Then it was time for the mochi-maki, the throwing of pounded rice cakes; the reason that friends and neighbours had gathered. Our friend and his sons went up to the second floor and threw out little bags containing rice cakes and sweets, to the people waiting below. Can you see H making an impressive leap to catch some?

K and I waited behind everyone, to make sure he didn't get trampled on... He still managed to get in on the fun though, picking up a bag that landed right in front of him and then promptly throwing it again!

Finally a carpenter threw down a giant rice cake, one that had some money in it:

The house is due to be completed by the end of June and I'm looking forward to seeing it. So are our friends, I think, who are temporarily living in a small flat with most of their furniture in storage...

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