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Showing posts from April, 2013

Book: Japan’s animal spirits

BONES OF CONTENTION: Animals and Religion inContemporary Japan, by Barbara R. Ambros. University of Hawaii Press, 2012, 255 pp., $29 (paperback) Bumping into a Japanese acquaintance on the street recently, I inquired where he was going on his day off dressed in a formal business suit. A worker at a major pharmaceutical company, he explained that he was participating in a ceremony honoring the spirits of all the animals that had suffered during experiments in their laboratories. A Buddhist priest would be conducting the rites. In Barbara R. Ambros’ “Bones of Contention,” the writer includes a similar example of a restaurant at the foot of a pet cemetery, which holds an annual memorial service for fish, birds and mammals, in a spirit of gratitude for sentient creatures that are “martyrs for the sake of the nation’s progress and prosperity.” Obliged to kill hundreds of thousands of chickens after avian flu struck in 2004, the Japan Poultry and Egg Farmer Association, we learn