As a Buddhist priest, I have attended funerals of temple's family members so many times so far.
But this time, it was not other family's one but mine.
On 21th Dec 2011, my grandfather has passed away.
In the early morning on the day, I've got a call from my mom.
When my phone rang, the idea that someone in my family must have died came up in my mind, since both my grandfather and grandmother were suffering for 4 years in elder's care house. So, I was not surprised at the news.
My hometown, Otaru-city is located in Hokkaido island, the northern most part of Japan.
I checked weather forecast, which said an ice storm was reaching and some flights would be cancelled.
I asked my wife to take a train ticket from Tokyo to Otaru.
Hokutosei, the name of over-night train, left Tokyo at 19:00. It was 16 hours trip.
Since I lived in India for a year and am familier with terrible Indian train, Hokutosei seemed like a super-deluxe luxurious train, though the seat I booked was the cheapest shared compartment.
While I didn't order dinner nor breakfast, you can have nice meals in its restaurant car. To save money, I just ordered a coffee and gazed at the passing scenery through the train window thinking of grandfather's memories.
Funeral ceremonies used to be held mostly at home, but these days many are held at ceremonial halls.
That's also the case of my grandfather's.
Some of my relatives are also Buddhist priests in my home town. My uncle in law conducted the funeral ceremony, my cousin attended left side, and I was right side.
Eight years have passed since I became Buddhist priest. The fact of my grandfather's death was sad. But I also feel that my grandfather is not far away from me but very close to me. I am not talking just about my memory with him. It's more like the flow of life.
Shoukei MATSUMOTO >>Profile Born in 1979 in Hokkaido, after the graduation from The University of Tokyo, Keisuke Matsumoto has worked in Komyoji Temple Tokyo for 7 years. As a head of Young Buddhist Association of Komyoji Temple, he launched new initiatives like Temple Cafe Project and Twilight Music Festival. After studying MBA in India, he is teaching "Temple Management" in Japan.