the spirits (of the dead)

Japanese translation: 御仏(みほとけ) or  仏(ほとけ) or 仏様(ほとけさま)

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:the spirits (of the dead)
Japanese translation:御仏(みほとけ) or  仏(ほとけ) or 仏様(ほとけさま)
Entered by: SeiTT

14:01 Jul 17, 2011
English to Japanese translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - Religion / Spirits
English term or phrase: the spirits (of the dead)
Greetings,

When I was in Japan, I stuck my chopstick into some food (刺す) and an older lady said that I should not do that because it would annoy some kind of spirits.

What would be the Japanese word for the kind of spirits (of the dead?) that would be annoyed? The word may have started with the honorific ‘お’, but perhaps I'm wrong.

All the best, and many thanks,

Simon
SeiTT
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:43
御仏(みほとけ) or  仏(ほとけ) or 仏様(ほとけさま)
Explanation:
I agree to Okada-san's opinion. 魂(たましい) must be an appropriate word though, 立て箸 (to stick chopstick into some food) is one of Buddhist rite. In Buddhist,'chopstick' represents the bridge between this life and eternity. That is why you shouldn't stick chopstick into some food. In Buddhist (in Japan), the spirits (of the dead) is called '仏(ほとけ)'. 

reference: お箸は、あの世とこの世のかけ橋という意味がありますが、普段(ふだん)は不吉(ふきつ)とされている。
http://www.kodomo-silkroad.net/denpa/food_tool/index.html
'Butsudan' 'family buddhist altar' or 仏壇(ぶつだん) Okada-san mentioned is so-called the dead's(deads') house.
Generally in Japan, chopsticks should not be vertically stuck in the rice, which is done during a Japanese Buddhism-style funeral. During funeral, people put chopsticks in a bowl of rice sticking at the head of the dead as an offering. Generally, many Japanese parents teach their children chopstick manners( including the reasons) as general knowledge.

In Shinto,it is called 御霊(みたま)as Okada-san suggests.
But, if you select it as general term regardless of religion.
魂(たましい) is appropriate word as Okada-san suggests.
立て箸 is Buddhist rite,so I suggested the above.
I hear 御霊(みたま) is the word which has been originally used in Shintoism(神道,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinto).

In Shinto, people put steamed rice as an offering, but chopsticks aren't vertically stuck. It's only Buddhist rite. In Japan, it must be ill manner to stick chopstick into some food regardless of whether they are buddhists or not. Some(or many?) Japanese-style tea ceremony(which has been primarily influenced by Zen Buddhism) masters seem to instruct how to use chopsticks as their traditional Japanese customs and manners. I don't know its details, but each manner seems to have reason.


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 day10 hrs (2011-07-19 00:09:09 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

* 祖先 or 先祖(ancestor)is not appropriate here. the spirits of the dead may include both 祖先の魂 and 'extraneous' ones.
Selected response from:

Mami Yamaguchi
Japan
Grading comment
Many thanks, excellent.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4Spirit of the ancestors 祖先の魂
Notoyakushas
3御仏(みほとけ) or  仏(ほとけ) or 仏様(ほとけさま)
Mami Yamaguchi
3Spirit(s) of foods
humbird
3ご先祖様
fumipi829
3霊、御霊(みたま)、たましい
Yuki Okada


Discussion entries: 3





  

Answers


8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
霊、御霊(みたま)、たましい


Explanation:
The above three all mean the same thing, the spirits of the dead.

Leaving chopsticks stuck on food is one of basic "don'ts" at table because it resembles what people do in front of a butsudan.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 24 mins (2011-07-17 14:26:23 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

It is called "tatehashi." See, for example,

http://kotobank.jp/word/立て箸


Yuki Okada
Canada
Local time: 02:43
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese
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52 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
ご先祖様


Explanation:
Since your experience in Japan was with an older lady, she was probably referring to ご先祖さま as something to show respect for or 奉る because much of the Japanese tradition has to do with having to honor ご先祖様。

fumipi829
Local time: 02:43
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese, Native in EnglishEnglish
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
Spirit(s) of foods


Explanation:
Interesting question ..... What was the food you stuck chopstick to? Was that a steamed rice in rice bowl? On this Okada already answered and indeed it is considered against good table manner in Japanese general code of ethics. Only when the food was offered to the dead, they do that.

Though there seems a bit of twist in your question. You addressed your question as "(of the dead)". I wonder why you so narrowed the sphere of your question before you ever solicit ideas from this audience. There appears to be a leap in your thinking.

I say this because to me the old lady's adomonishment was not necessarily such manner annoys the dead, but could be that it annoys the spirit of the food.

As you may already aware being in Japan for a while, the people consider spirit resides in everything. That why Japanese words for grace at table is "Itadakimasu". This is stemmed from verb "itadaku", means "let me have".
As short as the word of grace it is, what they are to have? A spirit that resides (or once resided) in the food, because by ingesting the foods we are to kill it. It's a word of appology as well as a word to honor the sacrifice made for us by the food source.

HTH



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 6 hrs (2011-07-17 20:32:06 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Woops, I got carried away while answering in English.
Here's my REAL answer in Japanese『食べ物の霊魂」.

humbird
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8
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1 day 9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Spirit of the ancestors 祖先の魂


Explanation:
As has been already said, there are many ways that you can talk about this.
Tatehashi as already stated refers to the act of sticking one's chopsticks into a bowl of rice. What the lady was most likely referring to was 祖先の魂 pronounced "sosen no tamashi" which means the Spirits of the Ancestors who are revered in Shintoism. The "お" sound you heard was probably an honorific pronounced before 祖先 to make it more respectful.

Notoyakushas
Local time: 18:43
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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1 day 2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
御仏(みほとけ) or  仏(ほとけ) or 仏様(ほとけさま)


Explanation:
I agree to Okada-san's opinion. 魂(たましい) must be an appropriate word though, 立て箸 (to stick chopstick into some food) is one of Buddhist rite. In Buddhist,'chopstick' represents the bridge between this life and eternity. That is why you shouldn't stick chopstick into some food. In Buddhist (in Japan), the spirits (of the dead) is called '仏(ほとけ)'. 

reference: お箸は、あの世とこの世のかけ橋という意味がありますが、普段(ふだん)は不吉(ふきつ)とされている。
http://www.kodomo-silkroad.net/denpa/food_tool/index.html
'Butsudan' 'family buddhist altar' or 仏壇(ぶつだん) Okada-san mentioned is so-called the dead's(deads') house.
Generally in Japan, chopsticks should not be vertically stuck in the rice, which is done during a Japanese Buddhism-style funeral. During funeral, people put chopsticks in a bowl of rice sticking at the head of the dead as an offering. Generally, many Japanese parents teach their children chopstick manners( including the reasons) as general knowledge.

In Shinto,it is called 御霊(みたま)as Okada-san suggests.
But, if you select it as general term regardless of religion.
魂(たましい) is appropriate word as Okada-san suggests.
立て箸 is Buddhist rite,so I suggested the above.
I hear 御霊(みたま) is the word which has been originally used in Shintoism(神道,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinto).

In Shinto, people put steamed rice as an offering, but chopsticks aren't vertically stuck. It's only Buddhist rite. In Japan, it must be ill manner to stick chopstick into some food regardless of whether they are buddhists or not. Some(or many?) Japanese-style tea ceremony(which has been primarily influenced by Zen Buddhism) masters seem to instruct how to use chopsticks as their traditional Japanese customs and manners. I don't know its details, but each manner seems to have reason.


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 day10 hrs (2011-07-19 00:09:09 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

* 祖先 or 先祖(ancestor)is not appropriate here. the spirits of the dead may include both 祖先の魂 and 'extraneous' ones.


Mami Yamaguchi
Japan
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese
Grading comment
Many thanks, excellent.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)



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