An overview of funeral food in Japan
A month or two into dating my wife, I had to attend her grandmother’s funeral. Because I was dating the eldest daughter and pretty much considered part of the family I had to take part in the funeral. The day after the precession to the family grave is pretty much a blur of old people drunkenly laughing, beer flowing and more food that I have ever seen.
Today’s blog will not focus on the funeral it’s self out of respect and the fact that every family has a different tradition, but also because we just had another funeral and still have the food piled up in the fridge, so it is still fresh in my head – and stomach. So without further delay I will serve you up a fancy little morsel of Japanese culture through the eyes of a (Quappa in Miyagi dialect) quarter Japanese foreign guy.
The funeral began promptly at 7 AM, but the whole family was up at eight preparing a feast of fish, mochi, meats and veggies. From there all the guests arrived and the beer began to flow. The meal started with miso soup and simple rice, followed by salad and chawamushi (A steamed egg pate filled with fish cake, walnuts and crab meat). Once this was finished snacks were provided while the women cleaned (I tried to help out in the kitchen because I used to be a chef, but I was kicked out by my mother-in law).
After everyone was thoroughly stuffed and drunk, we all go on a bus to go to the shrine and ceremony hall. After the ceremony while we were waiting for the cremation to finish there was another meal served in the ceremony hall. More meat, and fish cakes were served as well as konbu soup (seaweed).
Finally after the ceremony had finished, we all got on a bus to another meeting hall where we all sat on tatami (grass mat floors) and were served the main course. The main course started with sashimi and miso soup, next came a traditional platter filled with various pickled veggies and veggies. After this came a plate of fish cakes and mocha finally followed by desert.
As you can probably imagine, this experience left me wondering how Japanese people – 1) walk straight, and 2) stay so skinny! While I thought this may have been just an isolated incident for a rich family member, I was wrong. Many different events have similar meals set and there has rarely been a time where I have left an event like a wedding or funeral hungry while here in Japan.
What do you think? Have you ever experienced a meal like the one I have? Share your experiences about your experiences with traditional meals from any country, I would love to learn about your experiences.