Summer in Japan is a vibrant season. I love how everything is so green and the weather is warmer.
My father in-law’s rice paddies come to life. Obviously, not all of the places in Japan are chaotic, teeming with people and having the rush that the big city of Tokyo has. This rice paddy is right beside my in-law’s house. The next neigbor is about 100 meters away. I love the singing frogs and crickets in the summer, they couldn’t beat my Mr. Big CD.
If you haven’t tried listening to the sound of nature (along with my MIL screaming when she finds out another racoon has taken her melons) then you’re missing out on the big thing.
Then there’s celebrations, weddings, fireworks and the long holiday called O-bon festival. The O-bon is one of the most important traditions for Japanese people. It is a Buddhist event and is the period of praying for the departed loved ones.
Summer is the perfect season for visiting the graves because in winter, believe it or not, this whole thing is covered in snow!
My in-laws has their private grave or ohaka just a few meters away from their house. Here is where my husband’s grandparents’ ashes are. MIL takes Pristine for some education and tradition lesson.
I’ll tell you a secret: I am afraid of cemeteries, thanks to Stephen King. My daughter on the other hand is brave. I don’t know if it’s because her parents didn’t show her any zoombie featured movies or because she has no idea what the grave is for and what’s inside it.
MIL explained that this is the place where generations earlier is laid to rest. Pristine did not understand the concept of “generations earlier” or “laid to rest”. I gave a short and simple explanation that her dad’s grandmother has died of old age and is kept there, her ashes that is. She quickly understood and asked no further question. The idea did not freak her out like it freaked me out when I was her age.
But in Japan, I found myself totally cool with cemeteries. I once laid a mat near this grave and slept one summer afternoon some years ago. The idea that the Japanese don’t bury their dead and instead cremate them makes all the difference. No physical body in the grave, just ashes. I am cool with ashes – they don’t come alive in the night.
She lit a few incense sticks and mumbled a prayer. By the way, the kanji inscription on the stones on her left and right side is my husband’s family name. Those little stone tablets on the ground are where the ashes of his grandparents.
Then she stepped down and bowed again.
We proceeded to the nearby small temple – built by the people in their small community.
Pristine asked whether this is a church and where’s the priest and the pews. “No, not a church, no priest and no pews.” No more questions, please. “But what is this then?” She’s not yet fully aware that everything that ends in a curvy mark with a dot is a question.
The Buddhist Japanese (not generally speaking – just about my in-laws) do not have masses in churches or in temples like this. As far as I know, they visit this during the first day of the year. Some temples are huge and grand but this one is sort of, like, a private family temple. My father in-law has an interesting hobby. There’s a another small temple he helped build not too far away.
Don’t you like the greens around? Living in the desert with artificial greens all over make me miss the nature that is Japan. Summer in Japan is wonderful.
Except for the mosquitoes.
They are despicable creatures that attack without warning and permission. And they make my little girl miserable. I’ve once negotiated with them to bite me instead but the mosquitoes in Japan didn’t settle and wanted fresher, younger blood. Ouch.
See the mosquito bites on her legs? Poor girl but she gave me a smile one last time before we ran back to the house where MIL’s fresh melons await.
And these red, juicy stuff makes hubby’s rural hometown so pleasant, despite the mosquitoes. And the frogs and crickets.
If you enjoyed this, see more my Japan posts here.