Thursday, June 14, 2007

funerals (p.s.)

There were a couple more tidbits I forgot to mention about funerals in Japan.

One was about memorial services. As Barbara reminded me in the comments (thanks Barbara!)....In Japan, there is the 49 day service, 3 year service, 7 year service and other odd numbered year services. I'm not too certain as to why these services are performed on odd number years. Actually, most memorial services end up being done on even number years because of the way the Japanese count the years of death. The day that the person passes away is considered the first year that the person has passed. So, when the 3rd year memorial service comes around, it is actually the 2nd year.

This is also true of birthdays in Japan. The day you are born is considered the 1st year, so on your next birthday you are 2. (I think I like counting the years as they are and not "upping them" any more than necessary, don't you?)

The other thing which I forgot to mention which is really important is NEVER stick your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice or a dish of food. This is how the Japanese offer food to the deceased.

And a tidbit from Hawaii, is that we never cover our musubi (rice balls) totally in nori(laver), there has to be a little rice showing. I'm not really sure why, but I think it has to do with the whole musubi being black if it is covered.

I think that is all the tidbits, if I remember any more I'll let you know, or if you have any more, I'd love to hear them.


Jann said...

oh brother, I hope i can remember all these tidbits~knowing me, I would insult the entire nation in one visit!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting tidbits.


K and S said...

I'm sure you'll do fine, Jann! Hope to see you here soon.

Thanks Paz!

Take care you two.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kat,

Thanks so much for taking the time to share those cultural and useful tidbits. I will have to make a list out of them!

Anonymous said...

Isn't there one about not pouring tea (or any liquid) backwards because that is how you cleanse the body? I seem to remember something like this...

Anonymous said...

Hello. Nice to meet you.
One day,I came across your blog. and since then I have been a big fan of yours.
I have been a reader of your blog for almost 10 months.
Sice I am living in Takarazuka , reading your blog is very interesting for me.
I like to read English.
But since I am only a japanese I can't write in English very well.
So here is tips about ' Houji '.
I just look up explanations about ' Houji 'in Englsih.
But I could not find up over the internet.
I think you can read it since you read Orange Page magazine written in japanse.
All foods you make look so yummy. ~_~

K and S said...

You're welcome, Bea!

T, I think this is just a Hawaii thing, as my husband has never heard of the pouring. Thanks for reminding me though!

Thanks anonymous, I'll check out the link you gave. Hope to see you here more often :)

Take care everyone!

OkiHwn said...

I used to get scolded and my hand slapped by my Hawaii Japanese friends for pouring their beer back-handed many years ago. They told me it was the same as the chopsticks in the rice. I don't do that anymore, even find myself scolding other people.

K and S said...

Yeah, I used to get scolding too Okihwn. I think it is a Hawaii thing though, most Japanese I see hear do the back-hand pouring.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

funeral rituals (and how they evolve outside the home country) are so fascinating and strange. in california we had to send booklets of postage stamps to all the people who came to the funeral with a note of thanks in english and in japanese. we had to go to several post offices because we cleaned them out of their stamps! anyway, your post makes me also think about the movie, the funeral, by juzo itami. did you ever see it? it is hilarious. (it's a comedy) -bourgogne

K and S said...

I remember receiving stamps from other relatives too, Bourgogne. I wonder if it is a Mainland Japanese-American ritual? Thanks for the tip. I'll have to hunt out for that movie, hopefully I'll be able to find it :)

Take care.

Liz said...

I can't remember the name of it, but the money gift is placed in an envelope decorated with black and white cords. A dear friend's husband passed away and sending money from the US to the States seemed odd, so I wrote out a card in English, keeping the lettering large so that (as a student of English) she would be able to look up the words and translate for herself, something I knew she'd enjoy in some way, even in the face of her loss. I never went to a funeral myself- a student of mine died suddenly my second year and I was asked to go but I couldn't handle it.

K and S said...

Hi Lillbet,

I think it is called "o-koden". That is so sad about your student and I can understand why you wouldn't be able to go. I hope your friend will find some comfort from your card.
Take care and thanks for stopping by.