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Bonds of the DeadTemples, Burial, and the Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism$
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Mark Michael Rowe

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226730134

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226730165.001.0001

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Avoiding Abandonment

Avoiding Abandonment

Chapter:
(p.44) Chapter Two Avoiding Abandonment
Source:
Bonds of the Dead
Author(s):

Mark Michael Rowe

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226730165.003.0003

This chapter addresses the difficulties of finding a grave in contemporary Japan and the dangers inherent in not finding one. It begins by introducing the concept of muen (to be without bonds), a multivalent term that encapsulates the fears of Japanese who do not have graves, as well as those who lack relatives to maintain their graves into the future. Although the fear of dying alone, without anyone to care for your grave, is certainly not limited to the modern period, demographic, social, and economic shifts have recently pushed the problem of muen into the national spotlight. Muen implicates twenty-first century Japan as a society that is not only incapable of caring for its dead but also cannot even identify them.

Keywords:   contemporary japan, muen, economic shifts, graves, relatives, abandonment

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