The Cremation Of Daifoo (2009-07-13)

Quite a few funeral homes for pets can be found around Tokyo. We chose Japan Animal Funeral Home for no particular reason other than it's close to home.  They offer various funeral plans with different degree of elaborateness, we chose a private cremation with the option to receive Daifoo's ashes.  It turned out to be much more intricate and ritual-filled than we expected and it's more like we took home Daifoo's bones rather than his ashes.

The funeral home sent over a car to pick us up from our apartment which is very kind of them.  The ride was short and tears were rolling down my cheeks as I was patting and stroking Daifoo's fur the whole way there.   I wish the ride would last forever so I would never have to let go of his body from my arms.

After we arrived, KL registered at the reception and paid the bill.  We were asked to go up to the top floor (3rd floor) where a monk led us up a short flight of stairs to the cremation room.  In there Daifoo was laid on a table and the monk said his prayer before we said our final goodbye.  Then we were told to light incense on another table while he put Daifoo on the cremation bed.  Sobs turned to wails as I saw his body being rolled away from me and the door closed behind him.  THIS IS IT, WE WOULD NEVER SEE HIM AGAIN, the pain hit me like a sharp knife through my heart.

We waited on the third floor shrine area for the cremation to complete which took 75 minutes.  We were led back to the cremation room and viewed Daifoo's skeletal remains.  It was an eerie feeling.  The monk set aside the skull, jaw bones, first spine bone, the tail bones, and some of his toes on a tray to show us before he said more prayers.  Then we were asked to pick up the rest of his bones from the bed into the urn with long chopsticks.  While we were busy picking up the remaining bones, the monk arranged the tail bones into the shape of a tail!  After we thought we had finished transferring all the bones into the urn, the monk painstakingly picked up whatever minuscule bits left on the bed.  He was doing it with utmost thoroughness that put our work to shame.

The monk swept all the dust-like boney bits into the urn and moved the bones around to make room for the skull.  Then he very cautiously placed the rest of the bones except the tail into the urn to resemble the shape of the head.  After that, we were asked to put in the tail bones with our hands to signify the last touching of Daifoo. (more tears a-flowing there)  He sealed the urn, placed it inside a case and put it into a carry bag for us to take home.

At the train station, we decided to have a slight snack in a bakery with Daifoo on the table.  KL had always wanted to eat in a restaurant with him so he could sit on the table and share our food like he would at home.  We couldn't do it while he's living, at least we could do it after he's gone.

Note: Second half of the cremation pictures will appear on tomorrow's post.

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