Synopses & Reviews
Bardwell L. Smith offers a fresh perspective on c
, the Japanese ceremony performed to bring solace to those who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion. Showing how old and new forms of myth, symbol, doctrine, praxis, and organization combine and overlap in contemporary mizuko kuy=o
, Smith provides critical insight from many angles: the sociology of the family, the power of the medical profession, the economics of temples, the import of ancestral connections, the need for healing in both private and communal ways and, perhaps above all, the place of women in modern Japanese religion.
At the heart of Smith's research is the issue of how human beings experience the death of a life that has been and remains precious to them. While universal, these losses are also personal and unique. The role of society in helping people to heal from these experiences varies widely and has changed enormously in recent decades. In examples of grieving for these kinds of losses one finds narratives not only of deep sorrow but of remarkable dignity.
"Narratives of Sorrow and Dignity offers gripping, often extraordinary, insights into worlds we know very little of, together with pointers towards how we might learn to deal with loss and grieving and come to terms with our own morality."--The Times Literary Supplement
"In this incredibly good book Bardwell Smith shows us how one kind of parental bereavement fits into a cultural setting that is both different from and like our own...Smith with his humane attitude and clear writing style is a good teacher. The glossary of Japanese terms is extensive and pithy...Bardwell Smith has given us a book that allows us to understand parental grief from a Japanese perspective and thus give us a new perspective on grief in our own culture."--OMEGA: Journal of Death and Dying
"Narratives of Sorrow and Dignity offers a thorough, interdisciplinary, and sensitive examniation of mizuko kuy=o, one that will inform discussions of the topic for years to come."
--Journal of the American Academy of Religion
About the Author
John W. Nason
Professor of Asian Studies (Emeritus), Carleton College
Table of Contents
PART ONE: Approaching the Worlds of Mizuko
1. Mizuko Kuyo: Memorial Services for Child Loss in Japan
2. Architectural, Iconographic, Doctrinal Features of Mizuko Kuyo
3. Situating the Rites of Mourning: Two Temples and a Variety of Visitors
4. The Phenomena of Mizuko Kuyo: Responses to Pregnancy Loss
PART TWO: Deciphering the Worlds of Pregnancy Loss: Women, Men, and the Unborn
5. Japanese Woman as Housewife, Mother, and Worker: Patterns of Change and Continuity (1868-2010)
6. Ancestors, Angry Spirits, and the Unborn: Caring for the Dead on the Path to Ancestorhood
7. Mothers, Society, and Pregnancy Loss: Rethinking the Meaning of Nurture
PART THREE: Relating Mizuko Rei to the Larger Worlds of Profound Loss
8. The Revival of Death, the Rebirth of Grieving, and Ways of Mourning
9. Rituals of Affliction; An Invitation to Sobriety
1. Adashino Nenbutsuji, English language text of Mizuko kuyo service
2. Yvonne Rand, Jizo: Protector of Travelers into and out of Life
3. Sai-no-kawara text, tr. of Manabe Kosai. Jizo-bosatsu no kenkyu [Research on Jizo Bodhisattva]. Kyoto: Sanmitsudo shoten, 1960.
4. Yasuo Sakakibara, Economic Development and Temple Economics in Japan
NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION