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butsudan custom 2007/12/26 09:33
When visiting someonefs home in Japan and there is a shrine (butsudan), what is the proper thing to do?

Is it different when the home is that of a relative, friend or acquaintance?
Is it different in the homes of people living in the city verse homes in the inaka?

Normally, if I am bringing a gift, I place the gift in front of the shrine and then offer incense. If I am not bringing a gift, I usually leave a 1000 yen bill instead of the gift. Ifm not sure when or why I started doing this but Ifm sure it was from watching other people. I always feel awkward, not knowing for sure if what Ifm doing is correct.

If there is no butsudan present or it is located in another area of the home, then Ifm home free. BTW, one of my friend living in Osaka, has a butsudan with a remote controlled doorcwhat next?
by Lacalifusa  

butsudan 2007/12/26 14:09
I have never done anything like this when visiting a Japanese home- is this common?
by Sira rate this post as useful

... 2007/12/26 16:43
I've never heard of, and never done anything like placing gift/money in front of someone's butsudan at their home. Is this common at all??

If it's "butsudan" at one of my own relative's home, and if I'm visiting them for a relatives' gathering on certain anniversaries of one of the relatives who'd passed away, I will of course go and light an incense and pray. That's what the gathering is for.

by AK (Japanese) rate this post as useful

butsudan 2007/12/26 18:04
Customs differ depending on the region or family.

However, having relatives originating in the Metropolitan area, Shikoku region, Aichi area, Kansai area and Fukui, when bringing a gift to anyone I think you'd normally hand it to the person who is hosting you.

For example, if you know the whole family, you'd hand it to the wife or husband. If you only know their son, you will hand it to him. Then that person hands it to the head of the family, then that person might put it in front of the butsudan if the family is religous.

I've even attended a memorial mass of a relative, and all who don't live there just handed the gift to the wife in which she put in front of the butsudan.

Like others, I've never heard of placing/handing money when visiting a home. If it's a special occasion such as a wake (ceremony before funeral), one might bring obituary money in a special envelope, then that money might be placed in front of a butsudan.

In any case, it's not really polite to give money "bare" without wrapping it or without putting it in an envelope. I also don't think it's really polite to offer money without any special reason. The money you had given so far was probably acknowledge well as a foreign custom from your custom or something.

A butsudan is where the spirits of the ancesters of the family are. If you had known the deceased or are a religious person, you can offer to give incense to the butsudan. However, unless you have visited for your dead friend or unless it's your family, normally visitors ignore the butsudan. I always give incense to my dead grannys and granny-in-laws, but not at friends' homes.

But there's some bizarre customs sometimes, so you never know.
by Uco rate this post as useful

butsudan 2007/12/26 18:45
I just want to mention about butsudan. Well it it not a shrine. It is a Buddhist alter to house our ancestors'memorial tablets so that we can offer food,drink and some flowers to the deceased souls for consolation and appreciation.
by mamiko rate this post as useful

ic now 2007/12/26 21:07
It probably was at the home's of my relatives where I picked this up.
thank you for all your input..
by Lacalifusa rate this post as useful

butsudan custom 2007/12/27 08:19
I have kneeled with my host family in front of the butsudan at my host grandmother's house at Obon while they lit incense, but I have never seen anyone put money or a present there.

I would say when visiting people just hand the present to the host/ hostess after you arrive and don't leave money on the butsudan as it doesn't seem to be standard practice.
by Sira rate this post as useful

Relieved 2008/3/29 18:36
My wife's mother removed it before her death so we don't have to deal with it. It seems more like a tradition that no one really wants to continue, at least for us. I'm glad she had it removed.
by Kiyo rate this post as useful

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