Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey

by Marie Mutsuki Mockett


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Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

“Read it. You will be uplifted.”—Ruth Ozeki, Zen priest, author of A Tale for the Time BeingMarie Mutsuki Mockett's family owns a Buddhist temple 25 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In March 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami, radiation levels prohibited the burial of her Japanese grandfather's bones. As Japan mourned thousands of people lost in the disaster, Mockett also grieved for her American father, who had died unexpectedly.Seeking consolation, Mockett is guided by a colorful cast of Zen priests and ordinary Japanese who perform rituals that disturb, haunt, and finally uplift her. Her journey leads her into the radiation zone in an intricate white hazmat suit; to Eiheiji, a school for Zen Buddhist monks; on a visit to a Crab Lady and Fuzzy-Headed Priest’s temple on Mount Doom; and into the "thick dark" of the subterranean labyrinth under Kiyomizu temple, among other twists and turns. From the ecstasy of a cherry blossom festival in the radiation zone to the ghosts inhabiting chopsticks, Mockett writes of both the earthly and the sublime with extraordinary sensitivity. Her unpretentious and engaging voice makes her the kind of companion a reader wants to stay with wherever she goes, even into the heart of grief itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393063011
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/19/2015
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s novel
Picking Bones from Ash was shortlisted for the 2010 Saroyan Prize and the
Asian American Literary Awards for Fiction and was a finalist for the Paterson
Prize. She has written for the New York
Times, Salon, National Geographic, and other publications. She lives in San Francisco.

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

1 The Disaster 1

2 The Temple 11

3 The Great Parting 28

4 Winter Demons 45

5 Spring Blossoms 54

6 Buddha on the Archipelago: A History in Five Lessons 70

7 Sitting Together 84

8 Eating Together 98

9 The Little Princess 120

10 Parting the Atoms 131

11 Where the Dead Go 159

12 Underworld 176

13 Summer Visitors 201

14 Farewell to Old Souls 223

15 Autumn Colors 252

16 The Blind Medium 268

17 Darth Vader 285

18 Message from the Other World 299

Acknowledgments 315

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Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Alaska_Silver More than 1 year ago
A thoughtful and balanced glimpse into the complex attitudes the Japanese have toward the meaning of life, death and the afterlife. After losing her Japanese grandfather and her American father she struggles to find a way to move forward. Unable to find satisfactory answers in western society, she takes her search to her mother's homeland. I expected this to be a soul searching journey wallowing in misery but was very pleasantly surprised to find a wealth of multi-faceted glimpses into private and very personal aspects of Japanese life that would be impossible for anyone outside of Japan to encounter much less understand. She offers an unbiased look at the various sects of Buddhism throughout Japan and how they interact with each other and shape the lives of the people in very different ways. Her visits also coincided with the great earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 and span several years after this disaster, following the struggles of ordinary citizens to find meaning in senseless destruction and the fundamental changes this disaster has forced onto a very ancient culture. Buddhist priests of all sects are expanding their traditional roles and learning new ways to help their communities find new ways to cope and move forward. This is a beautifully crafted work that reveals touching insights into what it means to be Japanese. She touches on those differences that set them apart and makes them special while revealing that as members of the human race we all struggle with the same problems. When faced with personal crisis or great disaster we all have the same fundamental human needs, but the answer to those needs is not necessarily the same for any one person.
PabloMartin More than 1 year ago
Mockett's grief journey is a wonderful look at Japanese culture from a unique point of view: her mom is Japanese and her was American. I enjoyed learning about Buddhism, Fukashima and Japanese culture in general. As someone who has an interest in grief, I found that despite cultural differences, the grief journey for Japanese people takes time and introspection as in our culture. I recommend this book for Mockett's story telling ability and recounting of Buddhism and grief.