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Nature's EmbraceJapan's Aging Urbanites and New Death Rites$
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Satsuki Kawano

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833725

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833725.001.0001

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Historical Perspectives

Historical Perspectives

Chapter:
(p.53) Chapter Two Historical Perspectives
Source:
Nature's Embrace
Author(s):

Satsuki Kawano

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824833725.003.0003

The Grave-Free Promotion Society (GFPS) has been scattering the ashes of its members since 1991, as opposed to the traditional practice of interring them in a family grave. GFPS members feel that they would like to choose their own mortuary practices rather than follow the social convention. They are also critical of for-profit cemetery providers and Buddhist temples that demand high ceremonial costs. By briefly reviewing the history of Japanese mortuary practices, this chapter contextualizes the binaries that often characterize ash scattering and the family grave: the individual versus the collective, fluidity versus fixity, and a new practice versus a persisting custom. After situating the scattering of ashes in historical contexts, it explores to what extent and in what ways the scattering of ashes through the GFPS is similar to, or different from, earlier mortuary practices in Japan. By reincorporating fluidity and flexibility, the scattering of ashes belongs to a series of new mortuary practices expanded since the 1990s to cope with the effects of postindustrial shifts on Japanese society.

Keywords:   Grave-Free Promotion Society, ash scattering, death rites, family graves, cremation, mortuary practices, interment, Japanese society

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