http://www.japanecho.com/docs/html/160316.html

An excellent article on the history of the Japanese view of life after death.


Here is a part of it:

" PERSISTENCE OF THE JÔMON VIEW

The "mirror image" concept of the other world has certainly survived into modern times. As a child, I often did things "backwards"--for example, folding the right side of my kimono over the left instead of the reverse, as is proper. My mother would scold me sharply each time I did such things, saying, "That's the way dead people do it." Even now the Japanese dress the dead with the right side of the kimono over the left. They also break rice bowls and similar objects presented to the dead, the idea being that that which is imperfect in this world is perfect in the other and vice versa. Moreover, wakes are always held early in the evening, an apparent holdover from the ancient practice of performing the funeral rites themselves in the early evening to allow the soul to reach its destination in the afterworld's daylight hours."