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Lunedì, 31 Luglio 2017 14:25

The Japan we fail to see, part two

Many of those who have been in Japan, even for decades, have never heard of ancestor's worship, or, if they have, like me until recently do not have a clear idea of what it is.

It is therefore a sobering thought that the Japanese spend more time on ancestors worship than on all other rituals put together.

¥270 billion are spent every year on the altars used to the purpose.

Chances are good that most of the Japanese you know practice it in a form or another.

Nor is it just a quaint tradition. Ancestors worship reshapes societies that practice it in ways that are profound and full of consequences. It is common to all the cultures of what we call the far east, but in Japan it has acquired special, extremely unusual characteristics that have contributed to making Japan what it is. It is the direct cause of much of the grief Japan has known in its history.

I am no expert on the subject, to the contrary, I just discovered the topic, but it has literally reshaped my understanding of Japan, an understanding (and hopefully not a ) that I want to share. The concept has also political implications (and in fact it concerns directly the Imperial House and its role) and I think we all should understand it.

I will cover ancestor's worship in a few posts. Those who are interested in Japan are invited to pay attention. I hope it will open their eyes as it opened mine. If they live in Japan, understanding ancestors worship will help them understand those they love.

The following photo shows a butsudan, the altar the Japanese use to meet their dead.

They tell them the latest gossip, show them things, ask for advice. The Japanese do not accept and positively refuse The idea that the death of the body means the end of a relationship.

In fact, I think it is better to say that to the Japanese the dead are still alive and the same they were before. They just no longer have a body.


cover kamakura m 170x254

Kamakura an Historical Guide

Francesco Baldessari

This book is actually two books rolled into one. The first is indeed a step-by-step guide to Kamakura, the legendary capital of Japan’s first shogunate. The author, who has lived in Japan almost 37 years, will take you on a visit to 28 of his favorite temples and shrines.The second book, in providing the context necessary to understand Kamakura, becomes an extremely up-to-date introduction to the part of Japan that is immortal. The country’s history, religions, traditional art and architecture explained differently.Beneath both books lies a single idea. You can understand neither Japan, nor Kamakura if you do not know about a great catastrophe, the wave of brutal anti-Buddhist violence that hit full-force the whole country from 1868 to 1871, destroying forever much of its cultural heritage and countless lives, only to be almost completely forgotten in the aftermath.

L'ebook in numeri:
ISBN: 9788898750344

pdf-logo Download an excerpt of the ebook

Letto 259 volte
Francesco Baldessari

See Francesco Baldessari's books at this link

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