#290 Funerals

Funerals are called 葬儀/sougi or 葬式/soushiki.

I know funerals are never an awesome thing.
But, Japan has many funeral traditions and those traditions are the interesting part.

Japan’s Buddhist funerals consist of a wake, cremation, burial and a memorial. There are many different types and styles.

Guests always bring condolence money and receive a small gift when leaving the ceremony.

The wake consists of burning incense three times at the altar while the priest reads sutras.

The cremation and burial will happen a day or so after this and there’s a similar offering of incense while the priest recites sutras.

Then the person is given a new Buddhist name called a 戒名/kaimyou.

The cremation follows this and the family use chopsticks to pick the bones from the ashes and place them into the urn.

They choose bones from the feet upwards so the person is the right way up in the urn.

People can pass bones from chopsticks to chopsticks at funerals – that’s the reason it’s bad manners to do this at the table.

Finally the ashes are put into the family grave at a cemetery, but  sometimes they have the ashes at the family alter at home for 35 days before burial.


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