Friday, January 21, 2011

A Guessing Game

Walking back from school this morning along the river, I saw this in the empty lot behind a neighbor's house.

Any idea what this is and what's going to happen here?

Guessing Game!  I'll come back later (I have to go up to school this morning for Open House to watch my kids' classes and see whether they behave themselves and raise their hands to answer the teacher's questions)....and tell you what it is (if you don't already know).

Hmmmm....cut and folded paper suspended from twine strung around trees...

(...and no fair Mr. Harris telling what it is!  Mr. Harris has lived here for over 30 years, I think, and so must content himself with smug satisfaction;-))


 I'm home!  Did you guess?  Oooh--Martin is *very* close!  Martin gets a cookie:-))

This lot has been cleared to build a new house.  Before building, Shinto priests come and perform a purification ceremony to ward off evil spirits.  Shinto rites are very old, and even though most people do this, there's little actual superstition still attached to the rites.  It's as though the superstition has evaporated out, leaving the custom behind.  The ropes are "Shimenawa", and the papers are "gohei", a custom remaining from the time that the rope and paper were used to demarcate sacred places and keep evil spirits out.  Because, who wants evil spirits in a brand new house that doesn't even have toilet rings yet?  

I just went by the site, and they've started laying the foundation for the house (took a photo, but it's somewhat unintelligible--I couldn't get very close because of the cement mixer).   So since there's no photo of that--have a look at this!  Somebody had the foresight to video a purification ceremony and put it up on YouTube!  This ceremony is taking place inside the unfinished house: :

Parts 2 and 3 will come up after you watch part 1.  Enjoy--Mata asobou, ne!


  1. This is nearly impossible. I'd say that they were going to assemble some kind of sculpture, but why would they have to hang the papers up first. And why around a tree?

    I'll go with a paper sculpture. And I'll be wrong.

  2. Are they putting a shrine up in their backyard? Is that some sort of sanctification structure...a tree planted in each corner and the the area enclosed by the twine with rustly paper structures?

  3. Thanks for playing! :-)) Jerry made a *valiant* guess...and Martin, you were just *there*, but basically right!

    Exciting things around every corner...

  4. oooohh! Awesome! I wouldn't have been able to guess right, but now that you've told us it's cleary obvious the papers are gohei. DUR!

  5. Omoshiroi... Ack! He dropped the gift (tamagushi?) to kamisama (part 2)! And George Lucas could have hired the head priest to make the THX sound with that voice (part 3).

  6. Sarah--glad you like!

    Aratina--bwahaha! must go re-watch part 3!! :-))

  7. Aratina-- did it! Got the Last Comments Gadget--it was totally easy! Thanks for making it so easy to install and use (especially for computer dingbats like me...;-))

    *Definitely* cherry blossoms for spring for your Gnu symbol, and Gingko leaves for fall...and summer...let's see... morning glories twining up and popping open?

  8. Those are all fun ideas for the Gnu A. :) I will have to try them all.

    As for the gadget, glad it worked! And if you think the blue color of the separator bars above each comment is too dark, you can change it by clicking on "Design" in the Navbar (top right), then clicking the "Edit" link in the lower-right corner of the box titled "Last Comments". Then, scroll down to the bottom of the configuration page that pops up.

    There, you will see a drop-down menu with "Blue" selected. Click on that and a bunch of other colors names will drop down that you can choose from. Others that might fit your blog theme better are "LightSkyBlue", "SkyBlue" and "CornflowerBlue".

    After choosing a new color, push the SAVE button. Then you can view your blog to see how it looks with the new color.