Friday, July 16, 2010

Field Trip

Yesterday I found myself on an impromptu field trip with the kids. Apparently it was a rare opportunity to see behind the scaffolding at Akimiya (the big shrine up the hill from school/my house). This is the main building at Akimiya:

(Photo credit: George Shardlow)

However, there is a bunch of scaffolding behind this structure and I had heard vague pounding going on. It turns out they are constructing more buildings behind there, in a really painstakingly Japanese way with nothing but natural materials.

First we all sat in folding chairs under a tent. A shinto priest came out in full garb and blessed this stick with white paper hanging off of it. Next he blessed us with the stick while we bowed. Then there was a lot of explanation, of which I understood very little even though there were some pictures in the program. Then we donned hard hats and went behind the scaffolding.

Yes, it was about 80 degrees, sunny and humid and my kids were in full polyester track suits. Go figure.
We watched as a young man used a very sharp, small, machete-like knife to cut wood into very thin shingles. Then he filled his mouth with wooden nails, let one hang out at a time, grabbed it, banged it in with the middle of the hammer in one feel swoop and then gave it a few bangs with the head of the hammer. Except he did all of that in about a 1/2 second. It was like magic.

Here's a video of some other guys doing it on the actual structure. Sorry it's at an angle. Please turn your head to the left for just a few seconds!

I don't think they're going to be done any time soon.
I feel lucky to have gotten to see how they make these auxiliary shrine buildings.

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