Once again, I am learning at a rapid pace. I will leave for the wake and funeral in less than two hours. I rushed to two stores today and asked a ton of questions about proper clothing and bought a few items. I went to the bank to get money to offer at the service. I searched through my dictionaries for information about the services. Fortunately, last night my girlfriend called to ease my concerns about screwing up at the ceremonies.
Proper clothing for a funeral is a black suit, white shirt, and black tie. The tie can have a pattern, but it should be black on black. If one can’t wear a black suit, then a dark color is acceptable. Gray is preferrable to brown. If a black jacket is not worn, then a black arm band is recommended.
Tonight’s ceremony appears as ‘wake’ in the dictionary, and is called otsuya (御通夜) in Japanese. There are many alternate, but similar names; although, this one seems the most common. Some ceremonies are an all-night vigil with the deceased before sending their body to be cremated. I was not told if this is all-night or part of the night. It is customary to bring an offering, called kouden (香典), in a special envelope. The offering is meant to send the deceased on their journey.
For some offerings, people go to the bank or post office and get crisp, unused bills. Today, the banks are closed, but I asked the ATM for some bills… they were not new. I shocked the only other person present by asking many questions about how to get a clean bill. At first she had the, “I can’t understand the foreigner” look on her face and tried to put me off quickly and escape. When I asked again, she realized I was using difficult Japanese terms, and relaxed to normal conversation level. She said an old bill is better for kouden. I will verify that later.
I managed to get a white shirt, black pants, black socks, and black arm band today. I will be wearing my dark brown jacket. Hopefully I won’t offend anyone. Well, I better get cleaned up and out the door. Tomorrow’s post (Sunday Soundcheck) is already scheduled, so there will be something to read in my absence. Monday is a holiday and I will have a chance to see my girlfriend. She promised to give me a big hug, which I’m sure will remind me that much is still good in this world.