Buku Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye by Marie Mutsuki Mockett
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Buku Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

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Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Author:Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

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Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

ELEVEN

WHERE THE DEAD GO

ACCORDING TO THE JAPANESE, when children die, their souls gather on a riverbank called Sai no Kawara. In the Pure Land sect of Buddhism, it’s believed that children are sent to Sai no Kawara as punishment for causing their parents the deepest possible grief. Other schools teach that the souls of the dead children are unable to cross the river to the other side, where they can be reborn, because they haven’t accrued enough karma in their short lives for anyone to judge what their next turn on the wheel of fate should be. While stranded, the children build little pyramids out of rock and stone; this Sisyphean task is supposed to help them either accrue a little bit of karma or build a scalable ladder they can climb to get out of the underworld. But there are demons lurking nearby, and these malevolent beings are always knocking over the rock piles so the children have to start all over again. Overseeing this never-ending drama is a cruel old hag known as Shozoku no Baba.

 

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Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

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Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Author:Marie Mutsuki Mockett , Date: June 25, 2019

,Views: 69

Author:Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ELEVEN

WHERE THE DEAD GO

ACCORDING TO THE JAPANESE, when children die, their souls gather on a riverbank called Sai no Kawara. In the Pure Land sect of Buddhism, it’s believed that children are sent to Sai no Kawara as punishment for causing their parents the deepest possible grief. Other schools teach that the souls of the dead children are unable to cross the river to the other side, where they can be reborn, because they haven’t accrued enough karma in their short lives for anyone to judge what their next turn on the wheel of fate should be. While stranded, the children build little pyramids out of rock and stone; this Sisyphean task is supposed to help them either accrue a little bit of karma or build a scalable ladder they can climb to get out of the underworld. But there are demons lurking nearby, and these malevolent beings are always knocking over the rock piles so the children have to start all over again. Overseeing this never-ending drama is a cruel old hag known as Shozoku no Baba.

Fortunately, there is one particular bodhisattva who is dedicated to helping these children, and his name is Jiz. Unlike other bodhisattvas, Jiz wears simple robes and no jewelry. He often carries a staff. Sometimes you will see a small boy and girl hiding just inside his robes. On temple grounds and in cemeteries, such as the one on Mount Kya, you may see dozens of Jiz statues made out of stone but dressed with a red bib and a red hat; red has long been associated with the power to ward off evil in East Asia. The extra fabric also helps give Jiz more hiding places for the lost children, because when he can, Jiz sneaks across Sai no Kawara and gathers children into his robes. Before Shozoku no Baba can figure out what is going on, Jiz brings these little children back over to the other side of the river, so their souls can go through the necessary process to be reincarnated.

You can visit Sai no Kawara. In fact, there are many Sai no Kawara all over Japan, though the majority are located in Thoku. They are sacred places, cherished by locals, and the site of unofficial pilgrimages for grieving parents who worry about how their lost children are doing on the invisible journey to the next world. Most are located next to a body of water, such as a river, or by the ocean. Though I grew up knowing that such places existed, my mother had never taken me to any of them. They were so sad, she said, and there were so many other things about Japan that were more important. But the 2013 Japanese documentary in which I participated included a visit to a Sai no Kawara located in Iwaki. And so early on in our filming, I went to the underworld for the first time.

THE EVENING BEFORE the documentary shoot at Sai no Kawara, I was at dinner with the film crew.

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