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Ground-breaking ceremony was held at the summit of Co. Chajnantor

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U-Tokyo members at the ceremony and a bishop etc.

TAO will be constructed on the summit of Co. Chajnantor, Atacama in northern Chile. Co. Chajnantor is a sacred mountain for local people, and we will utilize there as the latest astronomy site. Since cultures of cooperation and symbiosis with Nature and God have taken root around the area, it is essential for local people to understand and corporate our aim that we respect their custom when utilizing the land. Under such a background, ground-breaking ceremony was held at the summit of Co. Chajnantor in December 20, 2017, just before the road maintenance to the summit and construction of main facility of TAO 6.5m.

Similar ceremony was held before the construction of miniTAO ("Access road to the summit of Chajnantor opened!"), but before starting 6.5m construction, the ceremony was held once again; for the purpose of praising God's forgiveness, safety of the construction and success of the project.

At the ceremony, we invited a bishop who is the descendant of indigenous people and various rituals were conducted according to the custom of the site. First of all, there was a ritual to take forgiveness from God for access to the summit at the foot of the mountain. After words from the bishop that we had permission from the God, the caravan proceeded their way to a familiar mountain road to the summit.

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The foot of Co. Chajnantor before the ceremony (left). Liquor is indispensable. The center is a bishop (right).
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Members arrived at the summit (left). The ceremony was held in front of the monument of TATAI (right).

The ceremony started solemnly with bishop's words. In the speech, the words included a gratitude for the God for letting us use this land until now, asking forgiveness for utilizing this sacred place for observatory, and prayers for safety of the construction and its completion, etc.

At the ceremony, plenty of liquor was given to the God and to the ground. All of us took alcohol together in order to share the same spirit with the God and within whole members. (Needless to say the drivers pretended to drink at the ceremony.) Furthermore, offering coca leaves to the God seemed to be the South American (Chile and Bolivia) style.

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Large quantity of liquors (left), and praying ceremony using coca leaves (right)

The address was given from Professor Yoshii on behalf of the members, Mr. Iwano (Intellect Inc.) and local readers, then forgiveness of constructing roads, prayer for safety, and followed a toast with everyone were done, the ceremony was over without any trouble.

By the way, we had been worried the weather would be rough in the vicinity of Co. Chajnantor. However, a miracle happened when the ritual at the summit celebrated the climax. The gale blows itself out and the cloud disappeared. We were very impressed, as if Pachamama (the God of Mother Earth in Andes) has given us blessings.

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Toast!!
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Commemorative photo!

After descending the mountain, luncheon party was held in San Pedro de Atacama in order to develop a good relationship. We had information exchanges with individuals, information sharing and made small talks, which was a very cozy time.

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Coffee Brake

"Penitente"

On the way to the summit, strange-shaped, pointed snowpack can be seen. This is called "Penitente". This scenery occurs in high altitude in severe environment such as Andean Cordilleras or the Himalaya Mountains. It only present itself under the condition of intense sunlight, low temperature, low humidity and stiff wind. Astronomical observation basically is carried out at night. However, in Atacama, we can also see beautiful views giving a sigh in the daytime: Penitente, never-ending vast dried land, salt lakes with flamingoes gliding down, etc.

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