Ritual and the life cycle
In many anthropological studies ritual and religion are closely related, although in complex societies there is often no particular connection between them, and the term ‘ritual’ may also refer to behaviour, like etiquette, which is decided by society and where individuals have little choice about its execution. In Japan there is much behaviour that falls into this category, and some of it has already been described and discussed in previous chapters. In this chapter the focus will be on ritual associated with the life cycle, and on the passage of Japanese people through various stages of life (and death), as celebrated by society. Having discussed some of the religious inﬂuences in Japan, we will be in a position to see how much part they play in this set of rites, and the various ways in which people are involved in religious practice.