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A ground-breaking ceremony was held Monday at the Musashino Imperial Mausoleum in Hachioji, in the western suburbs of Tokyo, where a mausoleum for the Empress Dowager will be built, the Imperial Household Agency said.

Representatives of the agency, including Motofumi Sumida, chief of the Maintenance and Works Department, and Archives and Mausoleums Department head Hitoshi Yamaguchi, as well as officials from Obayashi Corp., the general contractor that won the construction project, participated in the Shinto ceremony.

Priests from Hie Jinja, a shrine located in Tokyo’s Nagata-cho, conducted rites to purify the building site.

Until the start of the Meiji Restoration in 1867, Hie Jinja shrine functioned as the guardian shrine for Edo Castle, now the Imperial Palace.

It was one of the highest-ranking shrines designated by the government to worship the Imperial family until the end of World War II.

According to the agency, the mausoleum for the Empress Dowager, who died June 16 at age 97, will be built next to Musashino-no Misasagi, the mausoleum of her husband, the Emperor Showa.

The new mausoleum will cover about 1,800 sq. meters, compared with the 2,500-sq.-meter mausoleum of the late Emperor.

Its construction is expected to take about one year, but workers are scheduled to complete a stone structure, where the Empress Dowager’s coffin will be placed by July 25, when her funeral will be held.

The government said Monday the cost of holding the funeral and building the mausoleum, which will be paid for by the government, will total 2.5 billion yen.

The Imperial Household Agency has requested money to cover the costs, saying the funeral for the Empress Dowager is public in nature because she is an object of respect and mourning for the entire populace.