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The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan$
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Karen M. Gerhart

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832612

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832612.001.0001

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Death in the Fourteenth Century

Death in the Fourteenth Century

(p.15) 1 Death in the Fourteenth Century
The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan

Karen M. Gerhart

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter describes the funerals of, and subsequent memorial services for, two members of a family of court officials in mid-fourteenth century Japan. Rituals associated with death among the elites in medieval Japan can be divided into three distinct segments that dealt with the preparation for death and the act of dying, the funeral and burial or cremation, and the mourning rites: forty-nine days of deep mourning followed by regular memorial services and additional offerings extending through at least the third year. Through a translation and analysis of the relevant sections of Moromoriki, a chronicle written by the courtier Nakahara Moromori during the era of the Northern and Southern Courts (1336–1392), this chapter examines the flow of the various rituals associated with death in the fourteenth century, along with other practices related to medieval lay funerals. The discussion revolves around variations between the funerals and memorial rituals held for Senior Secretary Nakahara Morosuke and his wife, Nakahara Kenshin.

Keywords:   funerals, memorial services, rituals, death, medieval Japan, cremation, mourning rites, Moromoriki, Nakahara Morosuke, Nakahara Kenshin

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