DYING IN JAPAN Summary
  

This was an interview with my buddy recently when his girlfriend's step dad died.

What happens when somebody dies?

1. For our situation, he was just feeling ill, so he checked himself into the hospital. When he died they put his body in the freezer on the basement floor so it didn’t stink. They held him there for 10,000 man a day. This was until we arrived and decided what to do with the body. This means calling a funeral service. The funeral people arrive at the hospital then make arrangements for the ceremony. Usually they clean up the body some more for cosmetic purposes.

Who gets the stuff when they die?

2. usually the assets are taken of by the family. A wife or close relatives.

What happens when there is no will?

3. In our case there was no will, but he had health insurance. But it also depends on who he signs the health insurance over to. Kiki had to hire some people from the bank to figure out all this money stuff. They come to the house every day now.

How do the doctors communicate after the death? 

4. Also, one thing I forgot to mention is, I’m guessing when a family goes to see the doctor about his cause of death and how he got to where he is, the doctor goes into thorough detail about how he died. The doctor we had was extremely apologetic. And handled the situation very seriously when we were there.

Do they cremate people?

5. The crematorium we went to was in the middle of nowhere. We took a shuttle bus while Kiki’s mom took a hearse holding onto the picture of the deceased, and some piece of wood with his name on it.

What was it like to cremate him?

6. The crematorium itself had a very distinct smell, especially where the bodies where being burnt. You wouldn’t forget it. The entire place looked like something out of a Tim Burton movie. The walls were all black and gray.

What happens afterwards?

7. They place the coffin into one of the numbered doors. They looked like elevators. I was a bit taken back that these weren’t elevators. After they place the coffin into the door it closes. We then go up to the rooms upstairs to have a eulogy and some Japanese food.

What happens after the ceremony and eating?

8. After the bentos, they place all of the bones on a stainless steel table. Before each family member puts them in the urn, the person at the table identifies all the bones. The only ones with integrity left were his jaw and leg bones. All the rest were back bones and such. I should mention the bones themselves were crushed up so much that pieces of the bones became dust fuming all over the place. I must have inhaled some of the bones.

What else?

9. I should also mention that there were several other numbered rooms were they had stainless steel tables where families took huge chopsticks to place their recently deceased into the urn.

What happens before you leave the funeral home?

10. Before we left we put his picture near the foyer of the place where there was actually other family’s and their recently deceased. Before you left you have to light an incense stick and then hit a medal bowl with a thing.

What happens when you get back home?

11. When we got home we took his picture, the urn w/ the bones in it, and the wooden plaque and placed them on some silver cardboard pedestal made to look credible.

Anything you're supposed to do the following month?

12. Every day until 11/25 we have to do whats called the o-senko. Light a candle, kneel and pray, light and place the incense stick in a cup, then hit the gong plate with a thing.

13. Afterwords you have to blow out the candle with your hands. You can’t do it with your mouth. Because your hands are supposed to represent the wind.

14. On 11/25 this month, we have to go to a local shrine to have his ashes scattered. I think. I’m not entirely sure. But, this marks the end of the ceremony, and I can finally go back to my apartment. I guess the rule is you have to stay at the persons house for an entire month. I don’t know if there are more rules to this.

How much did the shit cost?

15. I forgot to mention that the ceremony is super fucking expensive. Something like 3 million yen.

16. The money here is used for the whole process. Pays for the coffin, the cremation, the bus ride, the people, and most importantly the flowers. Those things are real fucking flowers. Not the type you buy at the 100 yen store that are plastic. The real thing.

Ceremony Question:

17. During the ceremony you meet in a room. Have to dress in all black clothes. drink green tea. Then, they bring out the Buddhist priest (complete with a cell phone and designer glasses I might add). Who says this Chinese sounding prayer and rings this LOUD ASS gong. You then have to pass this charred piece of wood and drop I guess pieces of incense on it? This ignites some smoke. Everybody does this. I guess they do this chinese thing because Japan doesn’t really have a religion.

18. After the priest is done, the staff cuts off the heads of the ALL the flowers, giving them to the guests at the funeral. You have to place them around the body. Oh, and they also make cranes for you to place near the body too.

19. After all the flowers are placed, the family has to take the lid of the coffin and place it over the body.

20. There are two doors open near where the face is. The Wife or the close relative has to close it. And then make the trip to the crematorium.

21. I might add, the coffin and some of the like looked kinda cheesy. If it wasn’t for the design on the coffin and the like, I’d say its cheap looking. Like did you ever hear that lonely island song diaper money? Where they talk about gray plots? Kinda reminded me of that.