Immortalizing the Ancestors
This chapter looks at kazoku families in terms of succession: what is involved, who the successors—or descendants—were, how they related to the predecessors, and what contemporary successors did and do to keep their ancestors alive. Inevitably, the discussion leads us to explore more fully the structure of the ie (stem-family household), a central element of Japanese social organization. The chapter consists of two parts. Part One is concerned with succession itself, which again calls up the central issues of this book: opposition and collusion between structure and practice, or culture and nature. Part Two turns to rituals and symbols that memorialize and celebrate ancestors, thus perpetuating them. The perspective here extends to the post-Meiji state of religion, especially the relationship of Shinto and Buddhism, to show how that history affected the ancestor rites for the kazoku more than for commoners.
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