Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Higan in Japan, (visited our graveyards)

Today we visited our graveyards (husband-side and my-side) 
Vernal Equinox and Fall Equinox is our spiritually important traditional National Holidays. Seven day period during these Equinox is called "Higan" in Japan. 
Quite;  Higan literally translates as “the other shore”  and it refers to the belief that there is a river between this life and the next.  In Buddhism, this is a frequent metaphor for parting this shore of ignorance, hatred and greed to the other shore of nirvana, peace and so on. 

We have 2 origins for these holidays;

*One; is the celebration of seasonal change typical of an agricultural society. We have a saying "Atsusa samusa mo Higan made" ("Heat and cold last until Higan").

*The other; which is based on the Buddhist teaching, this Vernal and Fall Equinox fall in the middle of higan and  also called "Higan no Chu-Nichi" in Japanese. We visit our family tombs during these seven days to pay our respects to our ancestors, as we believe the ancestors spirits are here in this world crossing that river which separates us.  

I visited my father at his old-people's home and after that stopped by his empty house. Whenever I see mom and bro's pictures up on the  family alter, I cannot help but get slightly teary, hehe.  Then headed our grave yards (three places). We weeded  around the tombs, and left flowers, lit the incense. 
We traditionally put "ohagi" (sweet rice balls covered with red bean paste) to our altar or grave.  I reminisce my mother used to make lots of ohagi, for me and my brother, our favorite. It is tradition that ancestors' spirits prefer round food. I had no time to make them today, so I bought ready-made ones and enjoyed them.

I saw field mustard blossomed from place to place while driving to our graveyard;

No comments: