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A celebration for the souls 2(魂たちのための祝祭2)

This is a bilingual version of blog (the second half) written by Constance, who's the artist of our current exhibition.


- - - -以下、ブログ記事の後半- - -


Lets go back to our subject.



【Do the deads live in harmony with the living in Japan?】



Early this week, I was invited by Yukie to attend a once-in-a-year festival called "Toro Nagashi - floating lanterns festival", in the west of Tokyo, in the neighborhood of the Jindai-ji temple. This festival is part of a japanese-budhist traditional fest for the dead called "O-Bon" (a festive equivalence of our catholic "Toussaint").



After a dinner made of Soba noodles, we walked in the night to a river in a very green and calm area.

On the water were floating more than one hundred little lanterns, all with cute drawings and writings on it. The vision of this lights, and the orchestra next to it, in the dark yet intimate night was enchanting. We were a lot of people to look at the lanterns going away slowly on the water.



The atmosphere was calm, quiet, relaxing. Not too much joy, but no sorrows and sadness. Just as soothing as a quiet evening, altogether. The event was dedicated to the people who lost life during 2011 earthquake (the one that cause the explosion of Fukushima nuclear center.)




The Buddhists believe that the spirits come back on earth during Obon and enter in connexion with their family and beloved (I just met someone who told me that actually the family pick up the ghost at the cemetery for the week of Obon.) The family welcome this special event and prepare an "altar", with fruits and invariably an eggplant that symbolize a cow and a cucumber that symbolize a horse, to help the defunct to ride between the house and the cemetery. This is a very special moment, where the souls can be appeased, where the spirits that lost their ways after death can finally find home and peace.

仏教には、「お盆」の時期に故人の魂が地球に帰ってきて家族や愛する人と一緒に時間を過ごすという伝統があります。(いまこの文章をパソコンで書いてる最中にOngoingで会った人は「魂はふだんお墓にいて、お盆の週になると、家族が魂を迎えにお墓参りをするという考え方もある」という話をしてくれました) 祖先の魂を迎えるために、家に祭壇(訳注:精霊棚のこと)をつくり、果物などのお供え物を準備する伝統的な習慣があります。そして故人の魂が、家までの旅路で乗ってこられるように、牛としての茄子、馬としてのキュウリを準備します。お盆は、魂がさまようのをやめ、家に戻って平安を得られる特別な時期です。(訳注:コンストンスのリサーチによると、もともとのお盆の習慣のはじまりは、浮かばれない霊が成仏するために行った儀式のようなもの、だそうです。諸説ありそうです)


This is meaningful to me as I used to lay down under the stars and talk to my grandfather (they said he was going to North pole when he died.)



I'm still asking him some support from time to time but as an adult I'm sometimes asking myself if he can really listen to me, as in the catholic education, the souls are going to heaven after they die and there is no real imagination about how to enter in connexion with the dead people.



Making a special time to welcome them back and enjoying time with them feels actually natural and gentle. That this moment is neither sad or dark but rather enlightening and calming appears also as normal.



If death is a continuity of life, and considered as something as natural as being born and breathe, how to deal with the influence of the religious dogma on what we feel and how we deal personally with our intimacy? In the catholic church, death is among other symbols, represented by Jesus on the cross, bleeding and sacrificing himself. The cross is a reminder of the sacrifice he did for us and its held in the entrance of every catholic house and schools. In my opinion this representation cultivates rather fear toward dying and culpability (even if we did nothing wrong.)



More precisely, it can stop the natural intimate connexions we develop with invisible worlds and the ones who left who needs our blessings.



Now, in a complete contradiction to the soothing ritual the Buddhist offers to the souls, last august two prisonners were hanged in Japan. They committed murders on women (two and three). In Japan the death sentence is still allowed and more than 100 prisoners are waiting for the final sentence. Often they and their family don't know when its going to happen. In fact, the state gives itself the power to decide in full conscience and with using a painful method, the right of death toward a human.



Two opposite mentalities are existing on the same territory and this makes me do a complete loop to conclude. In " Princess Mononoké ", Miyazaki's masterpiece, nature and culture appear to be in complete contradiction. to my occidental eyes. I treated the movie as I would do with a Walt Disney, the good in opposition to the bad. No bad in the good, and no good in the bad.



Of course I was on Princess Mononoké side, as I defend nature and wildlife.



After talking with Takayuki, it appears that there are no good or bad camp. The bad is living with the good. Point.



And this is the first introduction to the complex and multiple japanese culture and mythology.



See you on the next lecture.




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