Grandmother’s funeral

No.86 

It seems my readers on Facebook page enjoy my stories related to culture difference between the western countries and Japan. I know both, I sometimes I feel like I am hovering between them but I think I have learned a technique not to compare them but to accept them.  
This is a long post to read but I wrote this on my Facebook page on June 6. Weddings and funerals are very typical occasions in which we find a great difference between countries and countries. And this is one experience I had in Japan 4 years ago, when my grand mother died….
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June 6, 2013  from my Facebook page 
Another story about Japanese culture. Would you like to hear? The photo is of course Mt.Fuji, I took this photo from the airplane 4 years ago, it is still the shortest trip I have ever made to Japan, I was in Japan only for 4 days. I had to go to Japan because my dear grandmother died, she was over 90 years old but still she was very dear to me. It took 24 hours for me to come to a funeral home in my hometown Kanazawa in japan and I arrived the night before the funeral. It is a Japanese custom to spend a night together with the deceased person. It was usually held at the deceased person’s home before but I think it is more and more common to do this at a funeral home, but it was like a big hotel. All my family were there and we took turn to watch over the candle and incense sticks all through the night. Both candle and incense sticks have to be burning all through the night. My grandmother was there in a casket, it was closed but there was a glass window and I could see her face. she was a smiling and quiet person but she was very quiet that night. Of course. My uncle had to be up all night as he is the oldest boy child. When my turn came in the middle of the night I sat next to the casket and thought of my grand mother. I was glad I came all the way from Norway and I did not mind at all to sit up late as I had a jetlag anyway. We got food and drink from the funeral home. On the occasion like this it is not common to serve meat or fish and there were lots and lots of Onigiri. My turn was over and I was taken over by my aunt, she was again eating Onigiri and I took a nap for a couple of hours til the morning sun woke me up… Then we were very busy. We had to dress ourselves in black clothes. I wore a simple black dress but my mother had to wear a special funeral kimono. It was like a war zone with so many family members in a big one room and all trying to dress in black clothes, it was almost so funny. While we were busy my grandmother disappeared. The casket was gone. I asked my uncle where she went and he showed me a huge motor behind the alter where my grand mother was an hour ago. The casket was on a belt conveyor and she was carried to the funeral hall downstairs where the ceremony takes place. It was a big funeral home with several funeral halls in the building, I was hoping my grand mother would not get lost. Then the funeral started. There was a seating order (again!), the closest family sit in front, my uncle has the honorable position, and my mother sat next to him as she is the oldest child. A lot of people came, not only the family members and relatives, neighbors, my uncle’s boss, students my grand mother taught (she was a kimono tailor and flower arrangement teacher). It took about an hour, the buddhist priests, three of them came, were reading the sutras but I didn’t understand a word of it. When the sutras was finished, they opened the casket. My grand mother was wearing a white kimono and she had a nice make-up on. Her cheeks were pink and she had a nice lipstick, maybe Chanel or maybe Christian Dior. We were asked to offer a flower each for my grand mother. I picked up one fresh daisy and put it in my grand mother’s casket. There were pink ones, orange ones, white ones, red ones. It was very pretty. My grand mother loved flowers. She had a flower shop and she took me to many morning auctions and I remember how people bought flowers in the early morning. The smell of the place, the smell of the flowers, noise of people shouting all over the place….an old memory. Then we had to take her to a place to cremate her. I can not write about the experience as it was a very special experience, but I was allowed to have a tiny piece of my grand mother’s bones with me. She is here with me, in my eye glass case that is placed in my dresser. Only my husband does not know that he is sleeping next to her every day. 

Thanks for reading. 


xxxx Rie
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