Ginza Komatsu, which was closed in 2008 for rebuilding, is now under construction. However, before construction on the new building began, a ceremony was performed on September 7, 2010. On the roof of Ginza Komatsu was a shrine that had protected the building for many years. The ceremony we conducted was related to that shrine, which is going to be rebuilt on the roof of the new Komatsu Store building.
The ceremony was a shizumemono ritual, performed to pacify the local Shinto gods and ensure the stability of the land and the new building to be constructed there. Such ceremonies are often called ground-breaking ceremonies, and can be considered as prayers, one purpose of which is to pray for safety during the construction work. This particular ceremony was also a prayer for the success of the Komatsu Store in its new form. Ceremonies like this are often performed when starting or completing a building project.
However, if this had been just a routine ceremony, there would be little point in writing a long post about it. In fact, it was far from routine. The priest conducting the ceremony was the chief priest of the oldest shrine in Japan, the Omiwa Shrine (Mount Miwa). The shrine on top of the old building was dedicated to the same Shinto god as the Omiwa Shrine. Having the chief priest of that shrine conduct the ceremony was of special significance for Komatsu Store. As you can imagine, we consider the ceremony to be much more than just an ordinary ground-breaking ceremony.
The actual ritual was extremely short, consisting of taking a shizumemono amulet brought from Omiwa Shrine and burying it in the earth that the building is constructed on. It’s easy to describe, but that description doesn’t do justice to the atmosphere of sacredness that accompanied the process.
Some of the things that we do in our daily lives are just small events that soon pass by, but in fact have great significance. Many of the things that Japanese people have a tradition of doing at particular seasons and on particular occasions fall into this category. In fact, there are many such seasonal acts and little rituals in our daily lives. There’s no compulsion to do them, but whenever we take the time to do so, our lives become that little bit better. They provide us with benefits in the form of the feelings that we have as we do them. Komatsu Store’s core principles include sharing such feelings and culture with our customers, and that is perhaps one of the reasons that we placed such importance on the shizumemono ritual. There was no compulsion to do it, but the fact that we took the time to conduct the ceremony is a demonstration of the essence of Komatsu Store.
When the construction is completed, the resulting structure will have the shizumemono buried underneath it, and the shrine on the rooftop. In between the two will be the new Ginza Komatsu building. The shizumemono purifies the earth underneath, ensuring a solid foundation. Then, directly above it on the roof, the renewed shrine will provide protection from on top. The building will have the consistent support of the Omiwa Shrine from top to bottom. Desire for that firm protection underlies the emphasis that we gave to conducting the shizumemono ceremony. Having the same Shinto god provide protection from the very bottom to the very top ensures a solid core for the building. An additional motive for conducting the ceremony was the strong feeling that we wanted to make the very best re-start. As a result, we hope that everyone will sense Komatsu Store’s consistency and its solid core.
The shizumemono ceremony can also be interpreted as marking a new start. One significance of the shizumemono ritual for pacifying the local Shinto gods is that it is a way of paying our respects to the earth beneath us. That earth has supported us and nurtured us throughout the store’s history. Closing for renewal sounds easy, but actually undergoing renewal and restarting the business with fresh hearts and minds is actually not so simple. For that reason, to reset our thoughts and start afresh, we have begun by paying our respects to the earth beneath us. After purification through the shizumemono ceremony, we are ready to start anew.
All these thoughts have resulted from a prayer-filled day preparing for Ginza Komatsu’s renewal. The photos accompanying this post will perhaps help you to gain an impression of the atmosphere.
The post is the first in a series chronicling the birth of the new Komatsu Store building. We plan to make additional posts from time to time reporting on the progress of construction and on events and incidents of interest that occur along the way.