|Budget Amount *help
¥1,600,000 (Direct Cost : ¥1,600,000)
Fiscal Year 1996 : ¥500,000 (Direct Cost : ¥500,000)
Fiscal Year 1995 : ¥500,000 (Direct Cost : ¥500,000)
Fiscal Year 1994 : ¥600,000 (Direct Cost : ¥600,000)
study, carried out for three years from 1994 to 1996, yielded many new findings from surveys conducted in various areas of the nation concerning death and funeral rituals, the ie (family) and attitudes toward the ancestors, butsudan (family Buddhist altar) and ihai tablets, graveyards and tombstones, division of tasks at funerals, and so forth. Some of the findings are summarized here.
Research on funeral folkways has been divided between that centering around funeral rituals and that revolving around social relations. The analyzes of both tended to be one-sided.
This study offers a new perspective to the subject, most notably the discovery of marked differences by region and their significance with regard to the division of tasks at funerals among three parties, ketsu-en ("blood-related" family and relatives and other kin related by marriage), chi-en ("locale-related" persons of the local commukity), and mu-en ("non-related" persons including undertakers and Buddhist priests or other cl
In Chiyoda-cho, Yamagata-gun, Hiroshima prefecture, for example, a group of neighbors perform the central functions at funerals, with the family members and other relatives of the deceased doing nothing but sitting vigil by the deceased. In Hohoku-cho, Toyoura-gun, Yamaguchi prefecture, funeral preparations are done by family and relatives on the first day, and from the second day onward a group of neighbors divide the central functions of the funeral among themselves.
In villages where almost all residents in the neighborhood are related by blood and marriage -such as villages in Tsuruga and Mihama, Fukui prefecture -certain relatives are chosen to play the parts of "non-kin" who carry the coffin and perform other funeral procedures. Another instance is from Iwaizumi-cho, Shimohei-gun, Iwate prefecture, in which the main parts of the funeral are performed by the family and relatives, with neighbors playing only a supplementary or support role.
This last instance, of family and relatives taking the leading role in funerals, is described in records dating from ancient and medieval times. It can be assumed that with the development of neighborhood organizations and the spread of mutual assistance practices in the early modern society, the main actors in performing funerals gradually shifted throughout the country from "blood-related" to "locale-related" people. Differences in funeral and other folkways fromnone region to another may be reflections of specific local history. Based on the recent findings, I am now in the process of verifying these differents through further perusal of documents and study of folk customs. Less