Q Why are memorial services held a number of times after a funeral?

A The Japanese memorial service of today is based on a combination of various origins of memorial services for the deceased derived from the memorial service tradition in

India, conventions based on Chinese traditions, and ances-tor worship in ancient Japan. It was primarily a Buddhist memorial service conducted from the 17th day and lasting until the 47th day after death.

Chinese convention prescribes these memorial services to be held 100 days, 1 year and 3 years after death (by Japanese reckoning that includes the year of death). Butextending these services to 7 years, 13 years, 23 years, 33 years, 50 years, 100 years and in perpetuity after death is uniquely Japanese.

The reason why so many memorial services are held in Japan is because of Shintoism which is based on ancestor worship. The Japanese feel that they are second to none when it comes to dedication as far as ancestor worship is concerned.

New Year is now an event to celebrate the ncoming year, but originally the period from the end of the year to New Year served as a time for holding a memorial service for the spirits of one' s ancestors. Even today, the tradition of obon (the Buddhist festival of the dead) is followed throughout Japan.

The Japanese also visit their family grave during the spring and summer equinox.Homes in Japan have a family altar dedicated to the ancestors and there are still homes where offerings are made every day.