- The 'ground purification ceremony' held for virtually every new private or public building in Japan. It used to have both Buddhist and Shinto-type forms but is nowadays normally conducted by a Shinto priest for the owners and the construction firm. Once levelled, the site is marked out as a temporary shrine (himorogi) with shimenawa, sakaki branches etc. and then purified in a ritual which appeases the kami of the land and local spirits, calls on their protection for the future occupants and cleanses the site of any undesirable influences. Also called ji-matsuri and toko-shizume-no-matsuri, it is probably derived from Taoism. While few Japanese would see participation in jichinsai as involving religious commitment of any kind and the ceremony does not involve named or enshrined kami, like goshi and the Yasukuni Shrine question jichinsai has been the focus of postwar legal and constitutional controversy when the ceremony has been carried out in relation to public buildings. Citizens of Tsu city in Mie prefecture took legal action against their mayor in 1965, arguing that in paying Shinto priests to perform a jichinsai for a new public gymnasium he had contravened Article 89 of the Constitution which prohibits the use of public funds for religious purposes. This well-publicised action reached the Supreme Court but was ultimately unsuccessful, with possible future implications for the constitutional status of Shinto as a religion.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.