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Hundreds of dolls, from Hello Kitty to Disney favourites, are packed to the ceiling at a funeral home near Tokyo.
Hundreds of dolls, from Hello Kitty to Disney favourites, are packed to the ceiling at a funeral home near Tokyo.
But they’re not here for show: the dolls destined for dumpsters are getting a final send-off for the afterlife. The ceremony this week underlines Japan’s still-strong belief that all things — from shrimps and eggs to scissors and rocks — have a soul. About 20 doll owners chanted a sutra with Buddhist monk Shingyo Goto as he performed the send-off ceremony in the doll-stuffed room, filled with the heady scent of incense. “We believe a soul lives inside dolls, so I perform a service to take the spirits out of them and express the feeling of gratitude to them” before bidding them farewell, said Goto, who lives at the prestigious Yakushiji temple in the ancient city of Nara. Japan’s neon-lit capital may look ultra-modern, but many in the country of 127 million still hold tightly to longstanding traditions, including the animist beliefs linked to its dominant religions: Buddhism and native Shintoism. And so ceremonies to bid farewell to inanimate objects — including dolls — are not uncommon.

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