Thursday, December 20, 2012

Student Burial in Japan

A student died in my friend's school. He's a third year junior high school student. My friend recollected that he is one of the kind and respectful students in his class. And although he's not good in English, he would try to communicate with her. My friend was shocked when she learned about his death last Monday. She immediately called me and cried. Last night she went to his burial and told me her observations which I also like to share.

japanese burial

1. Music

The first thing that my friend noticed was the background music during the wake. They weren't soft or mournful songs like in Philippine wakes. The songs played are from One Piece. The boy's parents explained that One Piece is his favorite anime. For someone to die that young, I think it is fitting to play songs in his generation. Perhaps, I would also want songs my generation to play in my own wake.

2. People

Almost all the students came along with the teachers. No eye was dry during the wake. My friend was surprised that even students who are rough and rowdy expressed their grief freely. Japanese society is not a very emotional one so it was an experience for my friend to witness adults and young ones crying without inhibitions.

3. Cause of Death

When my friend learned of the student's death, she automatically asked the cause. The teachers just told her that something happened. They seem evasive which quite puzzled her. In the wake, she also asked the parents and the parents were a bit vague about the details. Another ALT friend told us that when teachers and parents are quite vague, the probable cause would be suicide. Though we don't want to think that way, our friend has been here for quite sometime and has witnessed several student suicides. In Japan, suicide is quite common so it wasn't surprising. Nonetheless, it does not diminish the impact of knowing a person that young would commit suicide.

Although I hope I could share more regarding this topic, I don't wish to see any student burial. Death is already heartbreaking without seeing a younger generation on its claws.


  1. Very sad to hear of someone dying so young but it's never appropriate in my opinion to ask the family how he died.

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  8. That's so sad to hear. Unfortunately it is almost common in Japan. A student in my second grade died the first year I came to work there and my friend had two students die in the 8 years she worked as an ALT. So sad.

    1. That's so sad. I wonder what makes it common. I hope something can be done.

    2. As far as I know its a combination of stresses of overwork and suicide from bullying that account for teenage deaths in Japan. It is sad.

    3. Bullying is really a common problem among teenagers. A lot of countries now are doing anti-bullying programs, I wonder if there's ever one here. As for the overwork thing, their parents should do something about it. Obviously, these students cannot handle the stress. So far, in all the schools I have been to, I haven't met a guidance counselor that students can confide in. I think it counselling can help these students.


Any thoughts? Would love to hear them!

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