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> The Funeral
post Jan 30 2018, 12:38 PM
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That morning, all in attendance awoke to a gift of a white kimono, politely wrapped and slipped just inside the door. Gathering in the courtyard the guests waited as the priests wafted fragrant incense throughout His personal quarters. Opening the shutters, allowing light in once more, the crisp morning breeze blowing the atmosphere from its eaves. Rising together in a rhythmic drone, purification prayers were said to ward the touch of death from the home. As each finished, they joined Lord Zu in giving offerings and prayers at the Clan Shrine inside the courtyard, auspiciously placed to the royal quarters. The honoured visitors were invited, as was tradition, to enter the room one by one, so that in private they would be allowed to say their own personal goodbyes without the often judging eyes of those from the east.

Come midday, a dozen Samurai formed the centre of the procession before the gates. The coffin was lifted onto a large wagon, ordained with Sashimono holding only the one symbol, Yosaki’s personal mon. As the procesion formed up behind this body, Lord Zu, accompanied by Lord Chu and Masayoshi proceeded to the head of the snake, stopping only at the cart to place atop the coffin The Sword of Balance.

The journey was long. Something done alone in different times may very well have been quicker, but this wasn’t that, it was sombre, slow and quiet. It was not the flower trod procession of kings some may have expected, none came to line the sides of the roads, no one came out to offer refreshment to the travellers despite the status of those who were there. The people in this procession may as well have been the only people on this island.

Arriving upon the location of The Shrine of the Kami the procession was led by the Shugenja into the Shrine itself where a time of silent meditation was encouraged for those gathered to think deeply upon their memories of the deceased. With the Family Daymios sat at the front of the contemplation chamber, not one looked back over the crowd. Outside, the acolytes prepared the pyre and whence it was complete all assembled outside again, those that knew of and prepared for this tradition placed offerings that reminded them of Him, or even gifts they had yet have had the time to send. Those who were without were confirmed with humble offerings of food and money by Masayoshi.

The sky was a dirty white-grey, as the clouds of smoke contrasted heavily against them. They blossomed from the pyre as the custodians of the Shrine spoke the traditional Kamic prayers; “As we’re borne by this earth, we sap sustenance from air and water. In the end, we’re all returned by the fire.” It took hours to burn throughout, but tradition called for this patience and once the fire had died to embers Lord Zu took to the penultimate task. Picking his way to the middle of the dying pyre, he drew a pair of jade chopsticks from inside his funeral garb. ‘Kotsuage’, the tradition which literally translated, means to ‘pick the bones’, Lord Zu prepared Urns with the assistance of Masayoshi. Removing the bones and taking care not to touch them with their hands, for these jars were to be prepared and to be sent to the personal and family shrines of Yosaki and of those that had attended upon request.

Ending the service, Lord Zu took what looked to be the Urn of most significance and led cortège of mourners back to the Palace. He left the guard of Samurai to ensure that any remaining ashes were dealt with appropriately by the Shrine

Oc: flavour post three of four, cheers guys. John, Pacey, and Grant
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