Tribune. Carried away by the tsunami of March 11, 2011, the thousands of bodies that have never been found have revived old beliefs and rites of communication with ghosts in order to re-establish links beyond the grave.

“Would you like to hear my daughter?” The voices of the missing? “ Coming from a woman I had known in college in the late 1980s, this proposal surprised me. The strong bond that united us was forged around Emily Dickinson, of the Liverpool football team – the Reds.

Life had not spared her. A single mother abandoned by a husband as careerist as he was brutal, she had joined the ranks of “Fleeters” – the pejorative Japanese term for precarious workers with or without a contract -, in the Tohoku region (literally “northeast”). She had rebuilt a tiny and fiery life before the tsunami of March 11, 2011 took her daughter away and never returned her.

Of the dead who have become ghosts

The disaster that struck Japan had caused the death of nearly 20,000 people, including 2,500 “missing”. These were unrelated dead (“Muenbotoke”) – word “Hotoke” at the same time means a Buddha and a deceased person, sometimes a corpse. They stretched out their hands to tie themselves back to the shore of the living, not to disappear from their prayers, to reintegrate into their communities.

Most of the other wandering souls, even if what was left of their bodies had been found, had also left this world in the onslaught of disaster. In the most tested prefectures like Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, the tsunami had destroyed the temples, swept the cemeteries and forced the exhausted monks to often dispatch the funeral services in sheds, gymnasiums, shelters of makeshift.

However, in Japan, the ignored deceased become ghosts prisoners of their hatred, capable of exercising on several generations curses and curses (” Tatari “). Already circulating stories of ghosts seen at all hours, of apparitions roaming the scattered fragments of their destroyed lives moaning.

The emancipation of ghosts

Japanese ghosts, commonly referred to today by the term “Yûrei”, were not frightening until medieval times, as can be seen in the repertoire of the Noh theater, a large number of plays of which feature the reconciliation between the dead and the living.

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