After arranging the flowers and cleaning the tableware , further jobs included:
- Preparing the meal for the deceased
- Airing the cushions that the guests will sit on
- Preparing trays of food (mostly regular snacks - nuts, chocolate etc - and also some high quality Japanese sweets - made with adzuki bean paste, chestnut paste, white bean paste, and leaves) and drinks (chilled green tea) for the guests
*You could easily argue that the events going on in the 'ura' is just as (if not more) important than those in the omote ('front')...the 'ura' being the place where the preparations occur - usually only seen/experienced only by women (and, it turns out, men who are exhausted by the day's events)...but, privacy is the prerogative of those in the ura :)
(The aubergine and cucumber in the bottom right hand corner: The deceased comes down from heaven on a cucumber horse, and returns on an aubergine cow. Or something along those lines.)
(The meal for the deceased. The purple thing is my homegrown beetroot! The beans on the left are actually peanuts...)
(The photo below is of the pile of presents from the guests)
And, the order of events:
1.30-2pm Guests began to arrive, and we served them cold tea and snacks. There were about 20-30 guests in total.
2.30pm The priest（お坊さん）was due to arrive. He was late (he visits many houses on the same day), and while everyone waited for him, a couple of the men burnt the 108 candlestick holder and candles. we rearranged the cushions and removed the tables, so that everyone could sit in rows facing the priest.
3pm-ish The priest arrived. We gave him tea and sweets. Books with Buddhist verses (all kanji - no hiragana or katakana) were passed around and the priest told us which parts he would read. He then turned to face the shrine and began to chant. This lasted about 20 minutes, and during the chanting a box of fragrant burning wood chips was passed around and each person took some wood chips, touched their forehead with the chips, returned the chips to the box (not the same pile of chips, though) and passed it on to the next person.
4pm-ish Most people left to visit the grave, which is 2 minutes walk up the hill. We cleared things up and waited.
4.30pm-ish Everyone left.
Everything is then left in place until the next morning, just in case people later in the day want to come and pay their respects.
I am a big fan of leaving the clearing up until the next morning :)