March 21, 2003

Family cemetery

Today is a holiday celebrating the middle of spring. It's also a day to go visit the cemetery. Paying respects to my ancestors is something I've done since I was a kid, and most Japanese holidays are related to Buddhist rituals. It's just a part of me. I don't analyze it and I don't create my morals based on it, but it's important to me to visit my ancestors, let them know what I'm doing/feeling, and give them water and incense. When I lived in the U.S., I actually had some ashes from the family alter with me and I gave incense when I felt the need to. It helps me feel connected.

Today I went with my mom. My mom's maiden name is Yaginuma. Technically, since she married and is taken out of the family registration, she wouldn't be able to have her ashes put here. My mom told me today how my grandfather had the family tomb made when he was 22. He was poor but saved and was very proud to be able to have it ready at such a young age. We noted how during the bubble economy, people started buying rather flashy tombs (ohaka, お墓). I like ours. Nice and simple.

Posted by Mie at March 21, 2003 06:02 PM | TrackBack

I've always admired this connection with one's ancestors, probably because I have no hometown and my family (living and dead) are scattered across America, resulting in a sense of rootlessness.

It seems so natural, so comforting, to carry on conversations with the dead. I think Christians try to do the same thing with patron saints and guardian angels. But I like the personal aspect of confiding in one's ancestors. They are a part of you and you are a part of them.

Thanks for the photos...and for the photos of your living grandparents. Beautiful.

Posted by: M Sinclair Stevens at March 21, 2003 10:40 PM

Natsukashii ..! I remember doing this when I visited Japan at a much younger age. I lost this connection, but your post helps me to reminisce.

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: chriskk at March 22, 2003 01:48 AM

Dear Mie San,
I am SGI Buddhist, but I still talk
to my first Tsuma, at her grave.

Posted by: KUMA at March 22, 2003 04:11 AM

Regardless of our beliefs and background, I think we all have some sort of something (I'm purposely being vague) that we believe in, no? Even if it's just the about the purity of love or the connection of family. It's just in my case, I expand it over time and space. The more included, the merrier. Glad you relate : )

Posted by: Mie at March 26, 2003 01:00 PM
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