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Thread: Cremation and burial customs

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    Default Cremation and burial customs

    I was wondering about burial customs in Japan, mostly during the samurai period.

    On the surface I've read that both cremation and regular burials were practiced, but I haven't heard anything about the motivation for either cremating or burial. Was/is cremation a strictly a Buddist or Shintoist feature or was it used interchangebly? I believe Tokugawa Ieyasu was cremated and he was affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu (buddist) as I recall.
    Over here in the mostly Christian West, for instance, for a very long time we weren't allowed to cremate bodies due to the whole ressurection of the body doctrine.

    Is there a religous doctrine in either Shintoism or Buddism that preferrs/demands cremation over burials?
    Fredrik Hall
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred27 View Post
    I was wondering about burial customs in Japan, mostly during the samurai period.

    On the surface I've read that both cremation and regular burials were practiced, but I haven't heard anything about the motivation for either cremating or burial. Was/is cremation a strictly a Buddist or Shintoist feature or was it used interchangebly? I believe Tokugawa Ieyasu was cremated and he was affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu (buddist) as I recall.
    Over here in the mostly Christian West, for instance, for a very long time we weren't allowed to cremate bodies due to the whole ressurection of the body doctrine.

    Is there a religous doctrine in either Shintoism or Buddism that preferrs/demands cremation over burials?

    Cremation in Japan began with the introduction of buddhism and then became popularized in the 6th or 7th century if I remember correctly. Before buddhism it was all burials.

    There are no cremation doctrines in Shintoism.

    hope this helps.
    Tom Karazozis
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    Also, I am pretty sure Tokugawa Ieyasu's funeral was conducted by a Tendai monk named Tenkai and also other of Ieyasu's thrustworthy monks overlooking the ceremony, one being a Rinzai monk(can't remember his name). Someone correct me if I am wrong.
    Tom Karazozis
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Karazozis View Post
    Also, I am pretty sure Tokugawa Ieyasu's funeral was conducted by a Tendai monk named Tenkai and also other of Ieyasu's thrustworthy monks overlooking the ceremony, one being a Rinzai monk(can't remember his name). Someone correct me if I am wrong.
    I didnt mean to suggest he was a full-fledged Jodo Shinshu...ist . I do remember reading that he had as his war-banner (on at least one occassion) the Jodo Shinshu saying "Renounce this filthy land..." and so on. I cant remember the whole phrase at the moment but it was one of those Jodo "mottos".

    He might have used it as a political convience since he had some connections with the monks of Jodo Shinshu whos support he needed at the time. He even created a few temples dedicated to Jodo Shinshu and/or branches in Edo after his victory.
    Fredrik Hall
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred27 View Post
    I didnt mean to suggest he was a full-fledged Jodo Shinshu...ist .

    I wasn't implying that you were suggesting that he was a full-fledged follower of Jodo Shinshu .


    Quote Originally Posted by Fred27 View Post
    I do remember reading that he had as his war-banner (on at least one occassion) the Jodo Shinshu saying "Renounce this filthy land..." and so on. I cant remember the whole phrase at the moment but it was one of those Jodo "mottos".

    He might have used it as a political convience since he had some connections with the monks of Jodo Shinshu whos support he needed at the time. He even created a few temples dedicated to Jodo Shinshu and/or branches in Edo after his victory.

    Yes you are right it was also due to the orders of Ieyasu that the main temple of Jodo Shinshu (Honganji) split into two branches to help make the sect more powerful.
    Tom Karazozis
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    To come back to the subject of cremation in Japanese buddhist/shinto traditions, again, to make a long confusing analogy very short. Originally in the old indigenous religions of Japan starting from Jomon to Yayoi and so forth it was burials. I never found any records of cremations being conducted before the introduction of buddhism.

    Also, we know that Shinto does not practice cremations, but that doesn't mean they never did it or continue to do it. Shinto adopted many aspects of buddhism. Same goes for buddhism(In Japan, ofcourse). There are many examples of this and Tokugawa Ieyasu's funeral is one of them in view of the fact that it was carried out in "The Tendai Sanno Ichijitsu Shinto" tradition.
    Tom Karazozis
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Karazozis View Post
    ...also due to the orders of Ieyasu that the main temple of Jodo Shinshu (Honganji) split into two branches to help make the sect more powerful.
    Sorry, I have to correct my mistake here. I meant split into two branches because the sect was 'becoming too powerful' and from there it helped put a balance so that Jodo Shinshu would equally coexist with other sects of Japanese Buddhism.
    Tom Karazozis
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Karazozis View Post
    Sorry, I have to correct my mistake here. I meant split into two branches because the sect was 'becoming too powerful' and from there it helped put a balance so that Jodo Shinshu would equally coexist with other sects of Japanese Buddhism.
    A bit off traqck but: Working for Jodo Shinshu for twenty years I can tell you they even fight within the sects to a rediculous degree. I have seen court cases, people lose there livelihood bacause they were not in the right faction behind a certain preist. Frequent visits to the barbecue shop when they teach not to kill even a mosquito. One guy with a second wife and baby in the city. I know we all just have to try and be good Buddhists but it hardly sets a good example for the congregation. They are as they jokingly say in the Dieing business lots of money from funerals and good revenue from tombs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyaku View Post
    A bit off traqck but: Working for Jodo Shinshu for twenty years I can tell you they even fight within the sects to a rediculous degree. I have seen court cases, people lose there livelihood bacause they were not in the right faction behind a certain preist. Frequent visits to the barbecue shop when they teach not to kill even a mosquito. One guy with a second wife and baby in the city. I know we all just have to try and be good Buddhists but it hardly sets a good example for the congregation. They are as they jokingly say in the Dieing business lots of money from funerals and good revenue from tombs.
    Mr. Watkin, I don't doubt anything that you have said. I have seen it, heard about it, read about it myself, and its not only Jodo Shinshu. Soto-shu is another huge money maker, in fact they(sects) all are, but some more than others. It's sad.

    Nevertheless, there are still some good people here. I was fortunate enough to find a small Rinzai temple here where I can practice and luckily met some great people. I have been practicing there ever since. The priest never charged me a single dime for anything, and for that I give back what I can... Come to think of it, he did smack me a few times with the keisaku though, but that's ok, I can live with that, just as long as he never asks me to wash his dirty fundoshi.

    Thanks for posting. Have a nice day!
    Last edited by Tom Karazozis; 9th August 2009 at 00:34.
    Tom Karazozis
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