The Jotoshiki ‘Roof-raising’ Ceremony


The Jotoshiki (roof-raising ceremony) is a ceremony to pray for the safety of the building after completion, and is usually held once the basic structure, such as the pillars, ridges, and beams, are completed, and a ridgepole is raised into place. It is a chance for the builders and others related in the construction to collectively celebrate the core structure being built, and to eat and be merry as we pray to the Kami deities.

There are a number of rituals performed before the Jotoshiki Ceremony:

Shubatsu Ritual (Purification) 修祓

Shubatsu is a ritualistic purification of the attendants, so they are worthy of being in the presence of the Kami. This is often done with a staff with white lightning-rod shaped paper being swung over the heads of attendants as they bow deeply.

Kojin no Gi Ritual (Inviting of the Kami to join) Ritual 降神の儀

The Kojin no Gi Ritual is when we invite the Kami deities to possess the symbolic tree placed at the location of the Jotoshiki. Here, the Horagai Conch is sounded by a Yamabushi to invite the Kami deity.

Kensen no Gi Ritual 献饌の儀

In the Kensen no Gi, we dedicate food to the Kami, often fresh vegetables and fish from the local market, but also sake and rice.

Norito Sojo 祝詞奏上 (recitation and performance of Norito prayers)

During the Norito Sojo, we pray for the endless prosperity of the participants.

And then we are ready to begin the Jotoshiki Ceremony proper, starting with the Toboku-Barai no Gi.

Toboku-barai no Gi 棟木祓の (beam-purification)

There are five coloured flags around the building that stand for each of the elements: wood, fire, water, metal, and soil. These each need to be purified. Then the chief builder will use a hemp cloth to purify the beams.

Tsuchiuchi no Gi 槌打の儀 (beam-striking)

Then the Tsuchiuchi no Gi 槌打の儀 where the beams are ceremoniously struck with a hammer to stabilise the structure. Here the builders knock the beans and shout 'Senzai to, Manzai to, Eiei to'. Senzai Manzai means to exist for millions of years, and Eiei means eternal prosperity.

Tamagushi Hairei 玉串拝礼 (dedication of evergreen leaves to the Kami)

A ceremonial branch of an evergreen tree is dedicated to the Kami. Representatives from the attendants one by one take the Tamagushi branch and rotate it clockwise so that the base of the branch faces the Kami (the altar). The representative then bows deeply twice, claps twice, and bows deeply once again.

Tessen no Gi Removal of dedicated foods 撤饌の儀

During the Tessen no Gi, the foods that we dedicated to the Kami are taken down.

Shojin no Gi Kami sent back 昇神の儀

In the Shojin no Gi, the Kami is sent back to the shrine they live in. The priest will give a shout of 'Ooo', and the attendants are to bow their heads deeply.

Naorai Feast 直会

Lastly, there is the Naorai feast, where attendants enjoy the food and sake dedicated to the Kami.

These are just my notes in preparation for translating a Jotoshiki that will be held online from Dewa Sanzan Shrine, and broadcast to JINEN in Venice, Italy. These notes were taken from a variety of places, so they might not necessarily be how the Jotoshiki is held, and their might be some factual discrepancies, so best to use this with a grain of salt.



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