Master Craftsman Dedication Ceremony Held for Shurijo Castle Main Hall

―Praying for Enduring Peace and Prosperity of Main Hall―

  • Construction

2024.05.27

This morning, the joint venture consisting of Shimizu Corporation, KOKUBA-GUMI Co., Ltd., and Daiyonekensetsu Corporation (hereinafter referred to as the JV), which was contracted by the Okinawa General Bureau of the Cabinet Office for restoration and maintenance work on the Shurijo Castle Main Hall, held a master craftsman dedication ceremony in accordance with ancient custom. About 80 people involved in the project, including shrine carpenters, prayed for the peace and prosperity of the Main Hall. The ceremony took place after the framework and the roofing, eaves (woodwork) had been finished. At the ceremony, craftsman, dressed in traditional attire, performed stylish movements that intrigued visitors who happened to be in the permanent viewing space outside the temporary building.

This traditional ceremony performed by temple and shrine carpenters is said to have continued since the Heian era. In most cases, it is held when the woodwork for the roofing and eaves is completed, marking a significant milestone. Various rituals are performed during the ceremony, the highlights being the “Hikizuna no Gi,” during which the attendees pull the ridgepole up onto the roof with ropes, and the “Tsuchiuchi no Gi,” during which the ridgepole is nailed into place at the highest point of the roof.

Today’s ceremony began at 10:00. First, all the carpenters who had entered the venue went to the altar to announce the start of the ceremony. Then, after confirming that there were no mistakes in the location or orientation of the Main Hall that had been built, all the attendees took hold of a single red and white rope to perform the ritual. Next, the master carpenter (Katsuaki Kondo of Shajiken Co., Ltd.) in charge of leading the Tsuchiuchi no Gi ritual prayed for the enduring peace and prosperity of the building, holding the staff in one hand and loudly calling out “Senzai-to” (“thousand-year building), “Bansei-to” (“long-prospering building”), and “Eiei-to” (“eternal building”). Two carpenters who had climbed to the top of the roof struck the ridge beam twice with a hammer in unison with their shouts and then fixed it in place. The ceremony ended at around 10:50 a.m., following the “Sansen/Sanpei no Gi” (ritual of scattering rice cakes and coins to the gods of the four cardinal directions) and the craftsmen having reported the end of the ceremony at the altar.

The restoration of the Shuri Castle Main Hall has progressed smoothly since construction commenced in November 2022 and is now entering its peak period. As construction work progresses on various parts of the Main Hall, the roof tiling and painting work that will give the Main Hall its distinctive appearance is set to finally begin. Specifically, the preparation work for the roof tiles will start in June, and the actual roofing work will commence in July. As for the painting work, the preparation work will begin in earnest in July, and the famous red iron oxide paint will be applied in the latter half of this year.

The JV will continue to collaborate with the Okinawa General Bureau of the Cabinet Office, striving to promote the showcased restoration and disseminate construction-related information. The aim is to complete construction by the fall of 2026 without incident.

Overview of Master Craftsmen Dedication Ceremony

Time 10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m. on Monday, May 27
Location Inside the temporary building for the Shurijo Castle Main Hall Restoration and Maintenance Project
Program Craftsmen enter venue
Sorei (Announcement of start of ceremony [Summoning of craftsmen])
Ritual of the seating of the inspector
Joryo/Hakashekuiuchi no Gi (Measurement and master pile driving ritual)
Hikizuna no Gi (Rope pulling ritual)
Tsuchiuchi no Gi (Ridgepole nailing ritual)
Sansen/Sanpei no Gi (Coin and rice cake scattering ritual)
Ritual of the re-seating of the inspector
Sorei (Collective bow)
Performers A total of 17 people, including the inspector, chief craftsman, two measurers, the carpenter in charge of shaking the wooden stick used to drive off evil spirits, and two hammerers, performed the rituals. Four people from the JV and 13 from Shajiken Co., Ltd. performed.

At the Master Craftsmen Dedication Ceremony

Tsuchiuchi no Gi (carpenter in charge of shaking the staff with paper plaited streamers used to drive off evil spirits)
Tsuchiuchi no Gi (carpenter in charge of shaking the staff with paper plaited streamers used to drive off evil spirits)
Tsuchiuchi no Gi (hammerers)
Tsuchiuchi no Gi (hammerers)

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