Soul man

"We've all been looking forward to O-Bon this year," K. told me on Thursday, the day the festival started. "It's my grandfather's first one!"

"His first?! But he-- oh. You mean 'as a guest.'"

"We actually lit the o-mukaebi (welcoming fire) yesterday, because too many of us were busy tonight."

"Man, that must be like the ghost equivalent of making him catch a five A.M. flight. Shouldn't you be more reverent?"

"It's OK, he's family. Plus, on the weekend we have lots more relatives coming over to our place, so he won't mind."


"No, no, living ones."

Bonus link: Lafcadio Hearn on O-Bon.

'To-night,' says Akira, seating himself upon the floor in the posture of Buddha upon the Lotus, 'the Bon-ichi will be held. Perhaps you would like to see it?'

'Oh, Akira, all things in this country I should like to see. But tell me, I pray you; unto what may the Bon-ichi be likened?'

'The Bon-ichi,' answers Akira, 'is a market at which will be sold all things required for the Festival of the Dead; and the Festival of the Dead will begin to-morrow, when all the altars of the temples and all the shrines in the homes of good Buddhists will be made beautiful.'

'Then I want to see the Bon-ichi, Akira, and I should also like to see a Buddhist shrine--a household shrine.'

'Yes, will you come to my room?' asks Akira. 'It is not far--in the Street of the Aged Men, beyond the Street of the Stony River, and near to the Street Everlasting. There is a butsuma there--a household shrine--and on the way I will tell you about the Bonku.'

That "all things in this country I should like to see" is very touching to me, and very characteristic of Hearn, I think. (I also plan to start asking "Tell me, I pray you; unto what may X be likened?" instead of "Huh? X? What's that?" in future.)

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I see also from chapter 1 of that book by Hearn that Engrish has a long and honourable tradition: he mentions "divers shop-signs bearing announcements in absurd attempts at English"...

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