Page C1.1 . 17 August 2005                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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    Postcard from Shizukuishi

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    Prayer ceremony and festival for a Japanese house under construction. Photography by Elizabeth Bollinger.

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    Shinto priest.

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    Prayer service.

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    Throwing rice balls.


    Click on thumbnail images to view full-size pictures.

    Dear ArchitectureWeek,

    While traveling in Japan, I attended a Mochi Maki event in Shizukuishi, a small town of 20,000 in Iwate prefecture, northern Honshu. Mochi Maki is a rice-ball throwing event held during the construction of new buildings in Japan. An altar is set up within the building, and friends of the owners are invited to participate in a prayer ceremony conducted by a Shinto priest. During the service, the gods are invited to be present during the construction and occupancy of the building.

    Following the ceremony is a festival. Rice-balls and other treats are thrown to the guests from the roof of the building in a happening akin to Mardi Gras. Some of the rice-balls contain 500-yen coins. After the rice-ball throwing, food and drink abound.

    My husband and I attended the Mochi Maki for a house being built for three generations of the Kakiki Family. The house was designed by architect Kouhei Uwano, and Shinto priest Sugumachi presided at the service. As the guests of Hide and Tsuwa Kamura, we enjoyed enormously this unique cultural experience.

    On the road in Shizukuishi, Japan
    Elizabeth Bollinger

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