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  #1  
Old 07-26-2008, 08:15 PM
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Been in Japan since Tues and notes on a funeral...

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up as I've been away from the forum for almost a week.

My wife's father died earlier this week after suffering from the effects of Alzheimers for the last couple years.

We got the news of his passing Monday afternoon, and caught a flight Tuesday morning to Kansai airport (near Osaka).

Arrived Wednesday afternoon, dashed to the hotel to shower and change our clothes, then off to the funeral home for the viewing.

Sat in the room in front of the body while a Buddhist monk chanted and rang a metal bowl at regular intervals. We all got up when called upon, lit incense, and prayed in front of the body.

The actual funeral was Thursday, and the whole process was basically repeated. Lots of ceremony, chanting, incense, praying, bowing, etc.

At the end, we were all invited to put cut flowers in the open casket, which we did. Our four year old twins didn't know what to make of his death. My daughter saw the body and loudly asked, "Nan de ojiichan ga nette iru no?", "why is grandpa sleeping?" It was too much to take, and all cried openly.

Everyone was encouraged to touch his face, but I couldn't do it.

The close male relatives then carried the casked to a Lincoln hearse. I was impressed they had a Lincoln. Was expecting some sort of Japanese car. Made quick mental note to self to tell my loved ones when I die to arrange for a Cadillac hearse. Nothing against Lincoln, but I'm a Cadillac man.

Then boarded a limousine bus and departed for the crematorium, where more Buddhist chanting commenced, and then the body was deposited in the crematorium where it would be quickly burned.

Went back to the funeral home for a sashimi and sushi lunch accompanied with lots of beer, sake, and whiskey. Started to feel ill due to too little sleep, jet lag, and mixing raw fish with three kinds of liquor.

After lunch, we headed back to the crematorium. We were ushered into a room, and there in front of us were my wife's fathers burned ashes and bones on a table. I was shocked. Wasn't expecting that display, but it sure is a good visual of the ashes to ashes dust to dust Biblical passage. The crematorium employee picked up random pieces of bones with large wooden chopsticks, and explained which part of the body it was from.

My four year old daughter then loudly asked "Ojiichan ga kowarechatta", or "grandpa is all broken". She apparently made the visual connection that those bones were his cremated remains.

We were all handed a pair of long, wooden chopsticks, and encouraged to put pieces of his bones in a large ceramic pot, where they would be added with the rest of his ashes in a ceramic urn and be handed to his widow in about 90 days.

We went back the funeral home and ushered into another room, where there was more Buddhist chanting, bowing, praying, incense burning, etc., and it was all over.

Went back to the hotel, where I showered, changed clothes, and proceeded to throw up. I guess it was all too much for me.

It was a hell of an experience. I felt like the Richard Chamberlin character in Shogun when his lover, Marikos san, dies and he witnesses her funeral and cremation.

It was an experience I'll never forget.

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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
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1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #2  
Old 07-26-2008, 08:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suginami View Post
Just wanted to give everyone a heads up as I've been away from the forum for almost a week.

My wife's father died earlier this week after suffering from the effects of Alzheimers for the last couple years.

We got the news of his passing Monday afternoon, and caught a flight Tuesday morning to Kansai airport (near Osaka).

Arrived Wednesday afternoon, dashed to the hotel to shower and change our clothes, then off to the funeral home for the viewing.

Sat in the room in front of the body while a Buddhist monk chanted and rang a metal bowl at regular intervals. We all got up when called upon, lit incense, and prayed in front of the body.

The actual funeral was Thursday, and the whole process was basically repeated. Lots of ceremony, chanting, incense, praying, bowing, etc.

At the end, we were all invited to put cut flowers in the open casket, which we did. Our four year old twins didn't know what to make of his death. My daughter saw the body and loudly asked, "Nan de ojiichan ga nette iru no?", "why is grandpa sleeping?" It was too much to take, and all cried openly.

Everyone was encouraged to touch his face, but I couldn't do it.

The close male relatives then carried the casked to a Lincoln hearse. I was impressed they had a Lincoln. Was expecting some sort of Japanese car. Made quick mental note to self to tell my loved ones when I die to arrange for a Cadillac hearse. Nothing against Lincoln, but I'm a Cadillac man.

Then boarded a limousine bus and departed for the crematorium, where more Buddhist chanting commenced, and then the body was deposited in the crematorium where it would be quickly burned.

Went back to the funeral home for a sashimi and sushi lunch accompanied with lots of beer, sake, and whiskey. Started to feel ill due to too little sleep, jet lag, and mixing raw fish with three kinds of liquor.

After lunch, we headed back to the crematorium. We were ushered into a room, and there in front of us were my wife's fathers burned ashes and bones on a table. I was shocked. Wasn't expecting that display, but it sure is a good visual of the ashes to ashes dust to dust Biblical passage. The crematorium employee picked up random pieces of bones with large wooden chopsticks, and explained which part of the body it was from.

My four year old daughter then loudly asked "Ojiichan ga kowarechatta", or "grandpa is all broken". She apparently made the visual connection that those bones were his cremated remains.

We were all handed a pair of long, wooden chopsticks, and encouraged to put pieces of his bones in a large ceramic pot, where they would be added with the rest of his ashes in a ceramic urn and be handed to his widow in about 90 days.

We went back the funeral home and ushered into another room, where there was more Buddhist chanting, bowing, praying, incense burning, etc., and it was all over.

Went back to the hotel, where I showered, changed clothes, and proceeded to throw up. I guess it was all too much for me.

It was a hell of an experience. I felt like the Richard Chamberlin character in Shogun when his lover, Marikos san, dies and he witnesses her funeral and cremation.

It was an experience I'll never forget.
My sympathies.
For any emotionally healthy human,this catharsis a necessary component of life,at least you know you ARE human and are capable of feeling,no matter what the relation.

I think a stupid joke suggested by you would not be taken amiss at this time...
50% of Japanese drivers over the age of 60 have Cataracts.............The rest drive Rincolns.

All the best to you and yours.
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  #3  
Old 07-26-2008, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carleton Hughes View Post
50% of Japanese drivers over the age of 60 have Cataracts.............The rest drive Rincolns.

All the best to you and yours.
Thanks, that's a good one.

At any rate, I think I'll put the hearse thing in my living trust. I'd hate my "last ride" to be in a Ford product.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #4  
Old 07-26-2008, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suginami View Post
Thanks, that's a good one.

At any rate, I think I'll put the hearse thing in my living trust. I'd hate my "last ride" to be in a Ford product.
Nahhh,get a Merc 600 pullman.
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  #5  
Old 07-26-2008, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carleton Hughes View Post
Nahhh,get a Merc 600 pullman.
Good idea, but where in the hell am I going to be able to get my hands on a Merc 600 Pullman or hearse?
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #6  
Old 07-26-2008, 08:54 PM
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You have my sympathies. I think it's good that your children were involved in the process even if they didn't completely grasp what was happening.

It's not a 600, but better than a Lincoln:

http://www.hearse.com/pages_to_file_1/11546.html
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  #7  
Old 07-26-2008, 09:04 PM
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what a beautiful ceremony.

it may seem a bit uh earthy and heavy, but, years ago, my young cousin attended the western style funeral and burial of a relative and was quite worried that "auntie" would be quite unhappy living under the ground. required a lot of therapy after that.

you know, in the old days, they laid you out in the "parlor" for a few days. kind of demystified the deceased - in the sense that the body is nothing to be scared of (think horror movies) and uh concretizes? the change, loss etc.

my condolences. sorry to run on so much. hope i am not intruding.
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  #8  
Old 07-26-2008, 09:24 PM
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suginami,

my condolences to your family. it sounded like a beautiful ceremony to honor your grandfather.

japan is such a wonderful country im sure you know well. i wish i could make at trip again in the near future.

take care and again, my condolences.

bob
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  #9  
Old 07-27-2008, 07:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerry View Post
You have my sympathies. I think it's good that your children were involved in the process even if they didn't completely grasp what was happening.

It's not a 600, but better than a Lincoln:

http://www.hearse.com/pages_to_file_1/11546.html
Yes, they still don't grasp the dying thing completely, but they got the message. They have been told that grandpa is in heaven, but they wonder why he can't come back. My son asked if he could go to heaven this morning to visit him.

That's a nice hearse.....now I know they exist.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #10  
Old 07-27-2008, 08:06 AM
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Hello Suginami, why must your mother-in-law wait 90 days to receive the ashes?

I'd also be interested in knowing why Buddhism is always connected with death and Shinto is usually associated with birth and positive things.

I'm sure you'll make the most of your remaining time in Japan. All the best to you and your family.
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  #11  
Old 07-27-2008, 09:12 AM
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My sympathies to you and your family, Paul
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  #12  
Old 07-27-2008, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakehner View Post

I'd also be interested in knowing why Buddhism is always connected with death and Shinto is usually associated with birth and positive things.
My condolences Paul...

Soto Zen funeral rites are the standard for all Buddhist Schools in Japan and most funerals are still Buddhist.

Shintoism and life? Other than it was a state religion and was more ingrained with daily life, no idea.

If you learn more about Buddhism, namely Zen, it isn't associated with death.
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  #13  
Old 07-27-2008, 10:19 AM
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If you learn more about Buddhism, namely Zen, it isn't associated with death.[/quote]

while i am not a student of buddhism (nor do i play one on tv) i would suggest learning about the "four noble truths" (excuse me if i am not totally precise) and also must mention the american "ram das" aka richard alpert, if only to emphasize the title of his most famous work be here now, which is a wonderful goal (tho not easily achievable) for one's existence.

(to all those with greater knowledge, my apologies. please jump in and correct/improve upon my humble, simplistic characterizations.)
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  #14  
Old 07-27-2008, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suginami View Post

...

Went back to the funeral home for a sashimi and sushi lunch accompanied with lots of beer, sake, and whiskey. Started to feel ill due to too little sleep, jet lag, and mixing raw fish with three kinds of liquor.

After lunch, we headed back to the crematorium. We were ushered into a room, and there in front of us were my wife's fathers burned ashes and bones on a table. I was shocked. Wasn't expecting that display, but it sure is a good visual of the ashes to ashes dust to dust Biblical passage. The crematorium employee picked up random pieces of bones with large wooden chopsticks, and explained which part of the body it was from.

...
Whoa man, try to take it easy today.

Thanks for taking us with you to see that.
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  #15  
Old 07-27-2008, 11:16 AM
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Quite a description, Paul.

My condolonces also, to you and the wife.

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