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Japanese Mourning Ritual - Essay Example

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This paper will discuss the rural Japanese and their method of dealing with the death of a loved one. Many of the parts of the Japanese ritual were familiar and some of them were unusual…
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Japanese Mourning Ritual
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Download file to see previous pages Most cultures have a method of attempting to help that spirit get to the right place. This paper will discuss the rural Japanese and their method of dealing with the death of a loved one. Many of the parts of the Japanese ritual were familiar and some of them were unusual. After the body is cremated, family members remove bones from the body and place them in a jar which is then placed in the burial place for the family. This seems odd in the sense that if cremation is the answer to their burial problems, why then do they place bones in a crypt. The article does not really say why the family does this only that they do not physically touch the bones because of the contamination from death (Irish, 2000). Then the bones that are not chosen are dumped out back as if they were not important at all. This part of their ritual does not match anything that we do in our culture so it is hard to discern why it would be done. It does appear that all Japanese or at least the majority are concerned with somehow being contaminated with death. They handle the body after cremation with chip sticks, being careful not to touch any part of it and the wearing of particular garments to ward off death as if it was something to catch. It also appears that cremation is accepted by all of the different Japanese societies. There is also quite a bit of superstition that seems to be general throughout the culture as far as cats. They believe that the body will rise up if cats approach it. This might keep the spirit in this world and they are afraid of spirits so cats are kept away.

Though there are great differences which are mentioned, there are also great similarities to the rituals that we practice in our mourning ceremonies. The Japanese place the body in a casket and allow time for family to mill around and sit with the body, they cleanse the body ahead of time and dress it in a white Kimono under which is a favorite piece of clothing. In our traditions, the body is cleaned and after embalming, if the body is to be buried, the favorite clothing of a person is usually placed on the body.

Friends and family provided food for the relatives and friends that have shown up to pay their respects which is also very familiar in what we do here. The family is usually presented with dishes from other family and friends to serve to the people who come and for dinners in the home for a few days so the family does not have to cook.
The mourners wear black and on the average the male mourners are in one room and the female in another rule. It happens that way here too. I think it is really a utilitarian issue here and I would imagine that it is there too (Searle, 2003) Our women do most of the cooking and serving and so they kind of stay together for that reason while the men are usually more comfortable with each other and generally sit together in the same room.
There are a couple of other interesting things that bear mentioning. One of those is the fact that neighborhood groups are responsible for weddings and funerals so the cost of these things is really shared among many. This seems to be a great idea. It does not say what originally caused such a tradition but it would seem that this might be something that many other cultures might want to look at. The other is the "to pull a friend" ritual. In order to prevent the deceased from taking a friend with them, they place a doll or other comfort in the coffin with them. This is somewhat like us. Many families like to place a comforting object in the coffin with the body. Sometimes that is a treasured teddy bear and sometimes something else but always an object that was special that they can ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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