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A traditional Japanese frame blessing

From Daizen News November 2011

A frame-blessing ceremony is no longer common, but we had a good opportunity to do one recently in Kamloops. The client requested the ceremony, gathering family and friends together. The purpose of the ceremony is to show the last piece of the frame fitting into the house while the people who will live in the house look on. That last timber assembly included a wetting bush (small pine tree) and a Canadian flag.

Flying in the last roof truss, adorned with a Canadian flag and the traditional wetting bush. The truss end is padded against the lifting strap.

Fitting the final assembly into place.

The client contributed wine and snacks for everyone who gathered to celebrate the fine frame that was built. They greatly admired the work of the designer, the contractor, and we timber framers. In this event I witnessed the client’s thoughtfulness.

I explained the process of creating a frame—trees in coastal BC, cut selectively, delivered to a specialty mill, and carefully kiln dried. Once the wood arrived at our workshop, we planed, sanded, stained, and fabricated the timbers. All were local operations employng local people. I have no doubt that they cared for the work and tried the best they could, each in their own specialty. I shared my pride and appreciation on behalf of all these teams.

I realized something important in this event. The cost of living is so high now, and supporting local businesses (as opposed to using big-box chains) can cause higher immediate costs. Those who allow us to team up with other local businesses who do good work are really supporting our society.

I then blessed the house in the traditional Japanese style. Salt, sake, and rice were prepared for the ceremony. We also created a piece of wood listing all teams and the raising date on its back, and a wish and celebration on the front.

On the red cloth are small bowls of salt, sake, and rice. Leaning vertically above it is the “blessing board.”

I began by spreading salt at each corner: east, south, west, and north. Then, all together, we made two bows, two taps of the wood, and one bow. I explained this as follows: “We are asking this piece of wood to protect anyone who lives under this frame for ten generations to come. While we bow and tap, please put all of your wishes for protection into to this piece of wood. Once the ceremony is completed, this board will stay inside the roof.”

After the bowing and tapping was done, the home’s new owners spread the sake in the same manner as I had done with the salt. The general contractor followed suit with the rice. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony.

Interested in finding out more?

At Daizen, we ensure client expectations and understanding of processes are met through all phase of our work, from structural design and engineering to fabrication of timber frames and assembly and installation.