Three Stages of Death in Medieval Japan

As a writer of crime fiction, death plays a central part in my novels. Although I’m not morbid by nature (well, not entirely, anyway), I’ve always had an interest in cultural rituals of every kind, particularly those surrounding death, religion, and the afterlife. The final stage of the rituals surrounding a death affirmed the deceased’s new identity as an “ancestor.” This often included giving the deceased a new name (often a Buddhist name) and family members performing or arranging for certain rituals and prayers for an extended time–often far beyond the standard 49 days of “deep mourning” that followed death. In some cases, a stupa

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