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Capturing Contemporary JapanDifferentiation and Uncertainty$
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Satsuki Kawano, Glenda S. Roberts, and Susan Orpett Long

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838683

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838683.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

The Story of a Seventy-Three-Year-Old Woman Living Alone

The Story of a Seventy-Three-Year-Old Woman Living Alone

Her Thoughts on Death Rites

(p.316) Chapter 13 The Story of a Seventy-Three-Year-Old Woman Living Alone
Capturing Contemporary Japan

Satsuki Kawano

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the significance of ash scattering, a new mortuary practice in contemporary Japan, from the perspective of a seventy-three-year-old woman living alone. More specifically, it considers the old woman's attitudes toward death rites that are embedded in the larger context of her family relations and lifestyle choices, as well as her decision to have her ashes scattered at sea rather than having them interred in a family grave. Critics argue that ash scattering is a rejection of the family grave system and the associated values of family continuity and respect for ancestors. However, this chapter suggests that ash scattering does not necessarily imply a refusal to participate in conventional mortuary practices and care for the family dead. It also views ash scattering and other mortuary practices as a memorial strategy for people who lack a culturally preferred caretaker to maintain a family grave.

Keywords:   ash scattering, Japan, death rites, family, lifestyle choices, family grave, mortuary practices, death

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