Cover image for Where the dead pause, and the Japanese say goodbye : a journey
Title:
Where the dead pause, and the Japanese say goodbye : a journey
Author:
Mockett, Marie Mutsuki, author.
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W. W. Norton, [2015]
Physical Description:
xii, 316 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
"Seeking consolation [after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster of 2011], 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 Priests temple on Mount Doom; and into the 'thick dark' of the subterranean labyrinth under Kiyomizu temple, among other twists and turns"--Amazon.com.
Language:
English
Contents:
The disaster -- The temple -- The great parting -- Winter demons -- Spring blossoms -- Buddha on the archipelago: a history in five lessons -- Sitting together -- Eating together -- The little princess -- Parting the atoms -- Where the dead go -- Underworld -- Summer visitors -- Farewell to old souls -- Autumn colors -- The blind medium -- Darth Vader -- Message from the other world.
ISBN:
9780393063011
Format :
Book

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Central Library PS3613.O275 Z46 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Marie 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.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Mockett, author of the novel Picking Bones from Ash (2009), stands on many thresholds in this confiding, vivid, and enlightening spiritual memoir and travelogue. Herself a union of two worlds her mother is Japanese, her father a white American Mockett descended into depression after the deaths of her father and Japanese grandparents, personal losses shockingly compounded by the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Tens of thousands were killed in the region where her mother's family has owned a Buddhist temple for generations, land now poisoned by radiation escaping the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a disaster that prompted Mockett's cousin to reveal that he saw the plane drop the bomb on Nagasaki. Mockett's quest to understand how the Japanese cope with grief leads her to visit Buddhist temples, meditate, and speak with priests; participate in rituals to banish evil spirits, meet with a blind medium, and witness a cremation. Mockett's involving and revelatory chronicle of Japanese spirituality in a time of crisis greatly enriches our perceptions of both a unique culture and the human longing for connection with the dead.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In her memoir, which takes place shortly after the To_hoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, novelist Mockett (Picking Bones from Ash) embarks on a poignant spiritual journey through Japan, seeking solace after the death of her American father three years earlier and to bury her Japanese grandfather's bones. Touching on themes of modernity and tradition, Mockett takes part in various religious customs to come to terms with her grief and understand her mixed-cultural heritage. Beautiful folklore like the story of Moon Princess or the celestial princess weaver Orihime imbue the book with a sense of mystery and authenticity. The author's background as novelist is evident in her skilled descriptions of the changing seasons-the pink cherry blossoms of spring or the neon rice paddies in autumn-which combine with nuanced details of the nation's struggle after the March disaster to provide an intimate snapshot of the island nation's complex culture. Although Mockett's upbringing gives the memoir the sense of an outsider looking in, at times the comparisons of Japan to the West weigh heavy on the narrative and can distract from the story. Agent: Irene Skolnick, Irene Skolnick Literary Agency. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. There is a rich cultural history on the interplay between Shinto, Japan's native religion, and Buddhism, which was officially introduced to the country in the sixth century. Mockett (Picking Bones from Ash) mixes memoir, travelog, and a study of the sociology of death to look at how the unique character of Japanese spirituality helps individuals and the nation cope with loss. The author's story begins with her family's Buddhist temple in Iwaki, a coastal city 25 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and takes the reader to the places where the dead gather in Japan, such as a Buddhist temple on Mount Koya and onward to Sai no Kawara, a riverbank where the souls of children congregate. VERDICT This illuminating journey through loss, faith, and perseverance will appeal to both readers of Pico Iyer and current nonfiction on death culture, such as Caitlin Doughty's Smoke Gets in your Eyes and Mary Roach's Stiff. The author's unique access to Buddhist priests gives the reader a rare view into one of the richest death cultures in the world. [See Prepub Alert, 7/28/14.]-John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Prologuep. xi
1 The Disasterp. 1
2 The Templep. 11
3 The Great Partingp. 28
4 Winter Demonsp. 45
5 Spring Blossomsp. 54
6 Buddha on the Archipelago: A History in Five Lessonsp. 70
7 Sitting Togetherp. 84
8 Eating Togetherp. 98
9 The Little Princessp. 120
10 Parting the Atomsp. 131
11 Where the Dead Gop. 159
12 Underworldp. 176
13 Summer Visitorsp. 201
14 Farewell to Old Soulsp. 223
15 Autumn Colorsp. 252
16 The Blind Mediump. 268
17 Darth Vaderp. 285
18 Message from the Other Worldp. 299
Acknowledgmentsp. 315

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