Language Switcher

Japanese custom “Higan” is a memorial day for ancestors

In Japan, the three days before and after “Vernal Equinox Day” and “Autumn Equinox Day” (7 days in total) are called “Higan”.

The “spring equinox” and “autumn equinox”, where the length of day and the length of night are almost equal, are also called “Higan no chuniti (the middle day of the equinox)” and those days are holidays in Japan.

“Higan” is said to be a memorial day for ancestors, and it is a Japanese custom for the whole family to visit the ancestor’s grave.

The equinoctial week (Higan)

Japanese word “Higan” is originally comes from the ancient Indian Aryan “paramita”.
This word was written in Chinese letters which can pronounce “To Higan” in Japanese.

In Buddhism, there is a river calls “Sanzu River” which separates the worlds of life and death, and the world after death is called “Higan”, and the world before we die is called “Shigan”.

There are interesting meaning in these Buddhism words.
“Shigan” (world of lives) is the world which people suffer from bad desires.
“Higan” (world of dead) is the world which can eventually reach after taking off all bad desires, which also has the word “Nehan”.

Vernal equinox and autumn equinox are considered to be the easiest days to communicate between “the world of lives” and “the world of dead”.

Buddhism monks used to train to clear up their mind and get close to the world of death in those days.

It sure is an interesting story indeed!

After I heard this story, it makes me convincing that we visit our ancestor’s grave in “Vernal Equinox Day” and “Autumn Equinox Day”, because Japan is influenced a lot from Buddhism.

Visiting a grave

Buddha

Whenever I come here, I always think, “People will die someday! Our lifetime is precious!”

I want to live happily since I got a life in this world.
We can’t stay alive forever, so I think everyone should keep honest to our feelings and act as we want.

 

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