6 Tips to Know Japanese Funeral Etiquette

6 Tips to Know Japanese Funeral Etiquette

Unfortunately we don’t know when we have to go to a funeral. It is often difficult to know what to do in funerals when you are in foreign countries. In this article, I will tell you 6 tips to know about Japanese funerals so that you won’t embarrass yourself when you need to attend funeral in Japan.



 

6 Tips to Know Japanese Funeral Etiquette

 

1. Wake (Tsuya)

In Japan, when someone deceases, the body will be taken back to his/her home. The iced body will spend the last night at home. It is also a moment when family and neighbors come and give their condolence to the deceased. If you have close relationship with the deceased or his/her family, it’s better to pay the visit. If you are not available, you should give them a call and tell them that you will be at the funeral.

 

2. What to wear at a wake or a funeral

6 Tips to Know Japanese Funeral Etiquette mofuku

When you are invited to a wake or a funeral, it is preferable to wear something black. Although it’s better that men wear black suits or women wear black dress for a wake, it is acceptable for men to only wear black socks and a black tie, while women wear something dark and sombre since you will be invited very suddenly. On the other hand, men should wear black suits with white shirt and black tie and women should wear black dress or black kimono for a funeral. It is also important not to wear any flashy accessaries, including shiny watch, neckless, rings except for the wedding ring. It is also unappreciated to wear perfume at a funeral. Many Japanese people also take the prayer beads called “juzu”, but you don’t necessarily have one if you don’t possess one.

 

3. What to say to the deceased family

When you hear that someone has deceased, it is common to give the word of condolence to their family. In Japanese, you should tell them “Konotabi wa makoto ni goshusho sama de gozaimasu”, which means “Please accept my sincere condolences.” You can also add, “Kokoro yori okuyami moushiagemasu”, which also means that you give the word of condolences.

 

4. Condolence money (Kouden)

6 Tips to Know Japanese Funeral Etiquette kouden

You need to prepare the condolence money in a special envelope called “Bushugi” that you can purchase at convenience stores or stationary shops. The amount of money that you offer varies from 3000 yen to 30000 yen, depending on your relationship to the deceased. Although it’s not appropriate to put too wrinkled or too creased bills inside the Bushugi, it is also not a good sign to put new, uncreased bills as the condolence money either (it’s considered as a sign that you were expecting the death). Therefore if you only have new bills, fold them in two before putting inside the envelope.

 

5. Funeral (Soushiki)

6 Tips to Know Japanese Funeral Etiquette shoukou

On the day of the funeral, you will first leave the envelope with the condolence money in it at the reception. When all guest are seated, the Buddhist priest will change a sutra for the deceased. Then family members get up from their seats and offer incense (Shoukou) to the incense urn, placed in front of the deceased. After all the family members have offered incense, it’s guests’ turn to offer incense.

 

6. How to offer incense

6 Tips to Know Japanese Funeral Etiquette incense

Since each sect of Japanese religions has different ways to offer incense to the deceased, it’s better to watch carefully how other guests do and do the same when it’s your turn. Basically, when you approach in front of the incense urn, you will bow to the priest and the family. Take incense with your right hand and put the fire on incense with a candle. Pass the burning incense to the left hand, then put out the fire while fanning with the right hand (It is impolite to blow out the fire). Pass the incense to the right hand again in order to place it inside the urn. After that, put your hands together towards the picture of the deceased to pray.

 

Conclusion

It is difficult to know what to do in funeral of the religion that is different from yours. In this article, I have explained the funeral etiquette of the most common funeral practice in Japan. It is important to keep in mind that those manners might be different depending on regions, religions and sects of religions. I hope you have some idea how funeral goes in Japan now.

 

6 Tips to Know Japanese Funeral Etiquette

1. Wake (Tsuya)
2. What to wear at a wake or a funeral
3. What to say to the deceased family
4. Condolence money (Kouden)
5. Funeral (Soushiki)
6. How to offer incense