My family went to Nagano, my husband’s hometown, last week. As I mentioned at https://happyuan.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/i-attended-a-funeral/ his mother passed away in July. Most funerals in Japan are done with Buddhist rites unless people have a strong faith in other religions. After that, relatives regularly hold Buddhist services for the dead. They are held on the 7th and 49th days after death, one year after, two years after and at ever increasing intervals after.
On the 49th day after the death of my mother-in-law, a memorial service was held among my relatives. A Buddhist monk and relatives chanted sutras and burned incense for her. It is concidered that a deceased person arrives in heaven after 49 days of long journey. I think she lives happily in heaven now.
The Japanese film “Departures” came to my mind while listening to the Buddhist sutra. This is very unique and touching movie. It is not a love story, action nor suspense. It describes about a encoffiner, a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Oscars in 2009. I was moved to tears.