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Trying to write story 2010/5/2 02:16
Gaijin questions:
Hello. I hope I am putting this is the right place. I am trying to write a novel that has two characters, sisters, who are of Japanese descent. They were raised American, and have mainly American attitudes, but I would like to show them having some respect for their heritage. My knowledge of Japan is limited to what I have read in books and seen on TV. (I know, that would be like trying to understand America just from books and TV, half wrong and totally confusing.)

Both of their parents are dead. Would it be correct for either of them to have a family shrine? (One of those small wooden cabinets that has pictures and incense. Is that a butsudan? ) Neither is Buddhist.

I believe that gbig sister/older sisterh is One-san or One-chan. Is there something similar that means glittle sister/younger sisterh?

Ifm sorry if these questions sound stupid. I know I canft go too much into detail, since I would most likely get them wrong, but I would like to do more than just put Japanese names and faces on my characters.

Any suggestions would be welcome, including reading material. I love research.

Arigatō
by wyldkat64  

. 2010/5/2 11:58
Both of their parents are dead. Would it be correct for either of them to have a family shrine? (One of those small wooden cabinets that has pictures and incense. Is that a butsudan? ) Neither is Buddhist.

First of all, I'm not sure if I understand what you mean by "Neither is Buddhist." Most people of Japanese decendant has some kind of Buddhist sect in the heritage and their ancester's graves are set accordingly. Most Japanese people, whether Japanese locals or immigrants in a foreign country, do not practice Buddism in their daily life but they follow Buddism.

That said, assuming their parents or grandparents were common Japanese people with common Japanese heritage, it's not incorrect for them to be having a butsudan (which is of course a Buddism thing). But I would assume it wouldn't be that easy to obtain a butsudan while living in the U.S., so if they're not enthusiastic Buddists, I wouldn't be so sure about them having a butsudan in the house. But it might depend on what part of the U.S. they live in.

I believe that gbig sister/older sisterh is One-san or One-chan. Is there something similar that means glittle sister/younger sisterh?

gLittle sister/younger sisterhis "imouto," but while you would call out to your older sister by saying, "Hey, one-chan" you don't call out to your younger sister saying, "Hey, imouto." You call her by her name (or nickname).

But again, if they've been communicating in English most of their lives, I wouldn't be so sure if the younger one would call her sister "one-chan/san." They would probably call each other by their names, just as everyone would in the English speaking communities.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Uco: 2010/5/2 13:08
Thank you. Every piece of information I can get helps me.

So, it might be a good idea for me to find some references on Buddhism? I have a pretty good library not to far away.

I did a little looking and found out that butsudans are available through Amazon (of all places). I am thinking one would go in a quiet place in the home, is this correct? Or would it be more prominent, like near a door?
by wyldkat64 rate this post as useful

butsudan 2010/5/5 10:28
wyldkat64,

What I'm saying is that someone who isn't so eager about Buddism wouldn't go out of her way to obtain a butsudan, but it depends on the individual, of course.

That said, the place you should put the butsudan is very specific and complex. From a quick internet search, the best place seems to be at the north spot of the room with the butsudan facing the south.
http://ww8.tiki.ne.jp/~elbe2/htm_kaso/kihon_80.html

Typically, it is placed in a room where the family often gathers, which in Japan would tyically be the ima (living room) or the chanoma (sitting room).
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Uco: 2010/5/6 20:30

This is very interesting. :-)

I see that this is going to take a good deal of research before I can make an informed decision.

You have been extremely helpful, thank you very much.
by wyldkat64 rate this post as useful

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