For over a a thousand years, Buddhism has ruled eastern loss of life rituals and ideas of the afterlife. The 9 essays the following, ranging chronologically from the 10th century to the current, deliver to mild either continuity and alter in dying practices through the years.
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Extra info for Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism
The last three of these contemplations enumerate nine levels, presented as three groups of three, of persons who can achieve birth in Amida’s Pure Land. The three larger categories match those given in the Sukha¯vatı¯vyu ¯ ha, but the nine levels do not appear in that su¯tra. These nine levels correspond to the differing circumstances of aspirants’ birth in the Pure Land, according to their merits: for example, persons of the middle grade of the upper level will be born in Amida Buddha’s presence, and the lotus blossom in which they are born will open after only a day and a night, while those of the lowest grade of the lower level must wait twelve kalpas for their lotus blossom to unfold.
There is now a sizeable body of research in Japanese on funerary and mortuary practices among the Heian aristocracy and in medieval times. In addition to Tamamuro’s study cited in n. 3, see, for example, Haga Noboru, So¯gi no rekishi (Tokyo: Yu¯zankaku, 1970; rev. 1971); Tanaka Hisao, Sosen saishi no kenkyu ¯ (Tokyo: Ko¯bundo¯, 1978); Suito¯ Makoto, Chu ¯ sei no so¯so¯, bosei: Sekito¯ o zo¯ryu ¯ suru koto (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Ko¯bunkan, 1991); Shintani Takanori, Nihonjin no so¯gi ¯ ishi Masaaki, Nihon chu (Tokyo: Kinokuniya Shoten, 1992), 167–205; O ¯ sei shakai to jiin (Osaka: Seibundo¯, 2004), 256–285; Katsuda Itaru, Shishatachi no chu ¯ sei (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Ko¯bunkan, 2003) and Nihon chu sei no haka to so so (Tokyo: ¯ ¯¯ ¯ ’ no shi to so¯so¯: Kegare Yoshikawa Ko¯bunkan, 2006); and Uejima Susumu, ‘‘ ‘O to gakuryo, hijiri, zenshu¯,’’ Ko¯kogaku to chu ¯ seishi kenkyu ¯ 4: Chu ¯ sei jiin: Bo¯ryoku to keikan, ed.
1977), 210. 4. There are, however, several important English-language studies of death in Japanese Buddhism during specific historical periods: in the course of this Introduction, we will cite these in the notes. In addition, there are a number of monographs and essay collections on other aspects of death in Japan, which include substantial treatment of Buddhist elements. See, for example, Maurice Pinguet, Voluntary Death in Japan (La mort volontaire au Japon, 1984), trans. Rosemary Morris (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993); Elizabeth Kenney and Edmund T.