An Interview with an Employee of the Kajima Construction Company
Gratitude for the Construction of the Tokyo Temple03771_000_010
Everyone is aware of the tremendous efforts made by all those engaged in the construction of the Tokyo Temple to bring it to completion. During the two years and two months in which the temple was under construction, a total of approximately 30,000 man hours went into the construction of the temple. Recently we called upon Yasujiro Nakajima, one of the employees of Kajima Construction Company who worked on the temple, and interviewed him, partially in expression of our gratitude.
Seito no michi: There must have been problems involved in the building of the temple because of its unique nature.
Mr. Nakajima: Yes. Because the building differed completely in purpose from general commercial buildings, apartment buildings, office buildings, and so forth, we were unable to proceed according to the construction methods that we have used in the past. In this sense we did have a great deal of difficulty. Assembling the tower and placing the oxen which support the baptismal font caused special headaches. The tower was constructed first in parts that were assembled later; and the oxen statues weighed nearly one ton apiece and had to be lowered carefully down to the basement level with an oil pressure crane. We were also forced to alter the original building plans with regard to structure and design on a few points in order to conform to Japan’s climatic environmental conditions as well as legal standards.
Seito no michi: We appreciate your efforts indeed. If there are any interesting episodes or stories related to the construction of the temple, could you share them with us?
Mr. Nakajima: One unforgettable experience occurred in September of last year when a typhoon hit the Tokyo area. For the five hours until the storm passed over, I raced frantically around the site in raincoat and boots checking things that had been blown down or scattered by the winds and trying to prevent or correct any damage. It was a real struggle. The force of the winds was tremendous and my helmet and glasses were blown away and in the end I found myself clinging with all my might to the building to keep from being blown away. Around four o’clock when the winds had calmed, we faced other problems. We had to scoop out all the water that had entered the structure, a process that required all the workers to labor straight through until nine o’clock that evening without even a moment for a meal. That was one of the few times I have been really exhausted, and the lower back pain that troubled me for three days after was my reminder of the experiences.
Seito no michi: That must have been a painful experience, indeed.
Mr. Nakajima: Yes, it was. But our efforts paid off in the end. After completion of the building, we received the “Progress Award” from the Japanese Labor Standards Bureau. This is an award given to construction offices that meet the agreed upon date for completion of construction and maintain a high level of safety and superior standards of workmanship.
Seito no michi: That was indeed a fitting reward for your efforts. It is well-known that your company is one of the best construction companies in Japan with much outstanding technology. How were you able to use this technology in the construction of the temple?
Mr. Nakajima: While my answer may be somewhat abstract, we succeeded in the creation of a rational, durable, and highly functional building through efforts which made use of technology unique to our company in the areas of steel-frame structures, sashes, and other facets.
Seito no michi: What is your overall impression upon viewing the completed temple?
Mr. Nakajima: I feel strongly that this building will become a landmark of the area in which it is located.
Seito no michi: In conclusion, could you share your feelings upon the completion of the temple construction?
Mr. Nakajima: I am very happy and relieved to say that not a single injury was sustained during the construction of the temple. Furthermore, I am pleased to have had the opportunity of participating in the construction of such a unique building. On behalf of each employee of my company, I wish to express my thanks to each church member who was connected with the construction, to the supervising architect, and to the subcontractors and their employees for their efforts in the safe completion of this building.
Seito no michi: Thank you very much.