Hello. Long time since I been around these parts, hmmm.
I haven't been fucking around and ignoring my responsibilities as one of the bloggeratti. I have been up to things that are way more serious than talking about the merits of bolongna over sardines in a sandwich.
I can safely say that this has been one of the busiest months in my life. There have been a multitude of obsacles and events to overcome and attend to and although I haven't cleared the board of all my responsibilities, I have made them a lot more manegable.
I had to attend a funeral. I have to give a talk. University Curriculum updated and the start of classes yadda yadda yadda...
I am more than just a little bit curious about the way different cultures handle the passing of loved ones and relatives. America has it's own ceremonies and customs, but what I experienced earlier this month made the little hamsters powering my brain go haywire.
I know that I outght to enlighten you on the mysterious differences between life here in Japan and way the hell over the water back in America, sohere's one more thing you might find interesting.
The Japanese funeral, while basically the same as any other funeral I've attended- the robes of the clergy and the chanting and incantations differ in style, but not content and meaning- has one major difference. It is a participatory ceremony. In the states, everything that has to do with the care of the deceased is handled by professionals and in japan it is much the same except for one stage of the process.
In Japan those who mourn the passing assist in the cremation and entombment of their loved ones. This was a bit unusual for me; as you might have already suspected.
The casket is removed from the hearse by six pallbearers and placed on a pallet inside the creamatorium. Remove all the dark and sinister images from you heads, my brothers and sisters. The buildings look much the same as a modern church in any middle class neihborhood. The priest (Buddist) does his thing and afterwards, the pallet is loaded into the oven. After about 45 minutes (everytime I remember this part of the day I imagine the sound of a little bell, like those old kitchen timers calling me 'cuz the turkey is cooked) The pallet is removed (and here is where things get odd) with the remains of the body. You see, Not all of the body is turned to ash. The skull and many of the larger bones partially remain and the mourners take turns removing the bones and by passing them to each other with special bamboo chopsticks; placing them in a box. Once the bones have been collected the rest of the ashes are swept up and put in the box as well. Then we all jump in a bus and head over to the cemetary and stand around while the priests place the bones into the family crypt. Light a joss stick for respect and head back for more ceremonies.
I didn't know the woman well. I had only met her once. She was my wife's great aunt. I didn't have anything to do with the way she lived, but I helped her on her way afterwards. I guess that's what it's all about. We need someone(s help to come into the world and we need other to help us leave it.
I'm gonna get back to business and I promise, scout's honor (yeah, I was a scout) that I will be visiting you. I need the break from life you folks provide. For now though I'm gointa dist off my guitar. You people aren't the only thing I've been neglecting.