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Tomurai. Japanese funeral rites. At the approach of death, people plead with the soul not to depart, but when it is clear that it has nevertheless gone, a bowl of rice is placed by the head of the deceased for sustenance in the spirit world, with a sword or sharp knife on the other side for protection against evil spirits. The body is washed and dressed in white before being placed in the coffin. Words of comfort may be spoken (e.g. by Buddhist functionaries), and the body is then buried or cremated. A week later, on shonanuka (‘seventh day’), a posthumous name is bestowed. Mourning continues for seven weeks. Commemorations are made, especially at Bon (see ULLAMBANA; FESTIVALS AND FASTS). When these are complete, the last being called exactly that, tomurai age, ‘completion of the rites’, the spirit has become one with the ancestral kami.

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