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Japanese Burial in the United States


28 Oct 2003
Hello everyone,

My name is Yoshihara (middle name) and my sisters and I have been facing a dilemma for the past two weeks. Our mother, who was Okinawan, passed away a couple of weeks ago. We wanted very much to follow the customs of her homeland and provide a proper burial/ funeral for her. I have her urn right now and have been told that I have 49 days to find her a final resting place. She was a follower of Nichiren Buddahism before the organization split up into two sects- Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai.
She was incapacitated and was never able to choose which way she would have gone. The Soka Gakkai performed the funeral for us in Pensacola, Florida (thanks so much) and referred me to a cemetary out here in California; however, they BURY their dead here. I have been instructed that by no means am I allowed to place my mother underground, for that is forbidden in Okinawan tradition. There are temples (Myhoji temples) here in the U.S., but they said because my mother never had the opportunity to register with the Nichiren Shoshu, they could not accept my mothers remains to be transported to Mt Fuji and be placed in their temple. So here I am, trying to look for somewhere where I can lay my mother to rest, but at the same time, trying to find somewhere where she will not be placed underground. The cemetary the Soka Gakkai have here in California would be perfect because they pray at the cemetery throughout the year and perform Obon. I don't want to sacrifice that and put my mother somewhere that they have mausoleums and no connection to Japanese customs or traditions, like North Dakota or somewhere (no offense). It is day 15 of 49 now and I am in a dilemma. My sisters and I want to do the right thing and keep my mother's spirit happy. If anyone has encountered such a dilemma or has any insight on this matter, please respond. Thanks.
maybe you should get in contact with your mothers side of the family and see what they think you should do ?
well you could ask the california cemetary if theres a you can put her there without havung to have the ashed buried, i dont know your views on spreading the ashes out or whatnot. who said you had 49 days to put her somewhere? because if its not relgious you could keep the urn at home for the time being, until you can go back to japan and put her in a proper shrine there.
Thanks for the suggestions.

Seppuku: My mother's sisters were at the funeral and alot of the information I have obtained is from her closest sister, Yoshiko who is also Okinawan. They believe I should honor the tradition, so do I and my sisters...but it's kind of hard to do here without the right info.

Jeisan: It is customary for the remains to stay above ground. The cemetary I spoke of does not do this, but it is the closest I have found that still honors traditional Japanese customs. The custom I was told about explains that in the proceeding 49 days after death, the spirit of the deceased roams the earth and visits family members. On the 49th day, the spirit goes to the spirit world. If I keep the urn at home past the 49th day, then her spirit will be trapped here on earth. I looked up some customs that the japanese practice regarding funerals and found this to be their true custom. My mom was very animate about obtaining her U.S. citizenship and considered herself American. Before she died, she always told her sister that she wanted to be as close to her children as possible. Japan is a long way away and I, and my sisters, will probably not have the opportunity to ever go there again.....

Can you all feel my pain? Thanks for the replies. Help!!!!! :confused:
the myhoji templeswont let you get your mothers remains there without having them gone to mt. fuji, since you said that your mother would want to stay in the US to be close to her family? also you might want to email the SGI headquarters and see of they cant give you an alternative to a burial. [email protected]
i'm so sorry for this dilemma and the loss of a mother/loved one as well...
but my advice would be most likely wrong :(
best wishes and the best of luck in this endeavor.
Well, my aunt, Yoshiko, talked to the cemetary caretaker today, Mr Sugano, who is a member of SGI-USA. She seems to think it will be okay to bury my mother there. Although Okinawan tradition is important, so too, is my mother's spirit.

The Myhoji Temple said they would not take my mother because she wasn't registered as a follower of Nichire Shoshu.
How could she, when she suffered a stroke right before the NSA broke up? And they said they want her Gohonzon? :angryfire I don't understand those people, but their intentions seem evil.

So, we will go with the SGA cemetary here in California and pray for my mother's spirit. Thanks to those who tried to help me out.

Thanks Budd.👍

Nippon Power!!!!!
If your aunt agrees then that sounds like the way to go. I'm very sorry to hear that you have to go through this.

The solution I was going to suggest was to find a nearby cemetary that has a above-ground mausoleum (you shouldn't have to go to North Dakota or some place far). If it were in California there'd be sure to be other Japanese "residents" there.

You wouldn't believe all that I've gone through. I have called everywhere and looked on all the internet sites for hours and there are no mausoleums, which also involve prayers and Obon, that I can find in California. I would have to sacrifice one for the other, and I think the Obon is more important. I couldn't find anything that said something about burying above the ground on the internet. I even called a Japanese mortuary in L.A. and they said that they never heard of the custom of either. I thought Cali would have something to accomodate this tradition too, because of the high Japanese population....seems like we were both wrong. I hope my mother will be happy. I never wanted this day to come. She was the best.
Japanese traditions

First of all, I am very sorry for your loss. I know this was a LONG time ago, but I am certain it still hurts. I don't know if you look back on here anymore, but your message is where I ended up while doing some research. I really hope you don't take this the wrong way. I hope you don't think I am inconsiderate or anything. But believe it, or not your message has helped me on a MAJOR English paper. I am doing a research paper on afterlife/death and different traditions of religion/location-wise. I'm thinking this might sound rude because some would probably take this offensive in the way that I am writing about death for a grade. That is really not my intention, and I hope I don't and am sorry if I offend anyone out there. But you helped me learn about a Japanese tradition which I did not know about. I happen to find this topic very interesting and enjoy learning about different traditions around the world. So as I close this message, once again, I am very sorry for your loss. I don't know how it feels to lose a parent, but I know how it feels to lose a loved one. And thank you so much for this useful/interesting information.
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