Why I stopped eating vegetable and seed oils.

This is my first post in a long time. I’ve been working on other projects like my website and company Tokyotecture that offers tours of architecture in Tokyo. I recommend checking out that page if you’re want to see what Tokyo looks like through my iPhone and Nikon camera lenses.

I wanted to share with you a diet tip that I think is very important in this day and age. That is the total elimination of vegetable and seed oils from your diet. Personally, I’m vegan. Don’t stop reading, all of you carnivores out there. This isn’t a vegan post. I want all of us to get healthier, because the world needs us all functioning at our best if we’re going to turn this thing around. Oh, if you’re a climate denier you can stop reading. All you probably don’t read anyway.

Here’s the thing about vegetable and seed oils… And I’ll stop saying seed oils from here on out because that’s annoying for me to type overtime. But just know that I’m referring to any edible, refined oil when I say vegetable oils. That includes olive oil and coconut oil. Yes, all oils will mess you up.

Here’s what it comes down to: inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to a harmful condition like an injury or a substance. Vegetable oils cause inflammation in the body. I don’t know how they do, and I don’t feel like looking it up. If you can read this, then you can do your own research, so just take my word for it.

I had a really bad skin condition in high school, that didn’t just affect my skin but also my confidence, and my mood. It seemed impossible to correct with any type of lotion, face wash, or hygiene regimen. The specific condition is called seborrheic dermatitis, which is caused by a bacteria on the skin that feeds off of oils on the surface of the skin. However, looking back, I know the main cause was inflammation due to diet primarily.

As an adult, I was able to manage my skin condition up to a point with finding the right soap or lotion, getting enough sun and not touching my face if I could. But I would have occasional flare ups where my skin would start to inflame.

I went to grad school at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and shortly after I graduated I decided to pursue my dream of living in California. The low humidity on the West Coast is great for my skin since it doesn’t have to fight off loads of pathogens floating around. And the UV rays from the sun kills off lots of bacteria that likes to feast on skin oil. Still there were times when my skin would peel and flare up.

Now I’m living in Japan. If you really want to know how I got here you can probably find it somewhere on this blog. Japan is quite humid, and even my apartment that gets lots of sun, I live in a building named Sunlight Palace (sanraito parasu in Japanese), can attract mold in the darker, wetter portions of the apartment. Not good for my skin.

And that’s where my diet recommendation comes from. For all of those years, I was struggling not with a topical skin condition, but an internal state of inflammation caused by eating vegetable oils, refined sugar and processed foods. I’ll stick to vegetable oils for now, because I think many people are aware of the dangers of refined sugar, but vegetable oils fly under the radar. We think we can get by with choosing “healthy fats”. There are healthy fats, but not in a refined state without the fiber and nutrients present in seed form.

After removing oils from my diet for around 6 weeks now, I feel much better and my skin looks and feels smother that it has in a while. I typically have dry skin that flakes, because my skin cells die and reproduce at a rapid rate due to inflammation. But that’s changed since I eliminated oils from my diet.

It may not seem like a big deal, but vegetable oils and inflammation play a role in every major modern disease like heart disease, diabetes and even neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I don’t want any of those diseases. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are especially terrifying. I can’t imagine what that slow decline is like.

We have a culture that facilitates disease through lifestyle. It’s only when most people get older that they start caring about their health, and then it’s too late. We need to change the culture, fast. Start cooking without oils, and reduce inflammation in your body and mind.

Check out photos of my vegan, oil free food below.

Live free.

-Mike Free

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media

manufacturing-consent
Watch Manufacturing Consent,  a 1993 documentary showing how the media controls pubic debate and influences public opinion with great accuracy.


Also, if you’re interested in alternative news sources check out these links.

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheYoungTurks

http://www.democracynow.org

http://www.truth-out.org

http://www.commondreams.org

http://www.truthdig.com

If you know of any other progressive news sources please comment below.

Poliça’s New Lime Habit Video will Please Fruit Lovers

With a good beat, and stunning visuals Poliça’s Lime Habit keeps 2 out of your 5 senses enamored for the duration. That’s for those of you who only have 5 senses. If you an extra sense or two you’d know that this song, and Poliça’s latest album United Crushers is going to do just that, crush.

Make sure you watch the video a few times over. And one last note: this video is certified vegan. Nary a cheese wedge floats across the screen. I mean there’s even a raw beet that looks organic. And still no cheese. Impressive Poliça.

The Tokyo Dream

Living in Tokyo has me questioning the American dream. Specifically, my American dream where I live in a multi-million dollar mansion near the beach in West Los Angeles. As the winter gets colder that dream will likely get brighter in my mind, but it’s often littered with dark spots that tarnish  the image.

Earlier this year a black woman living in Santa Monica lost her keys and was locked out of her apartment. After calling a locksmith and getting into her place she heard loud banging on her door, she was confronted by over 15 police officers some of them with guns drawn. In Santa Monica of all places. Add another dark spot to that dream.

Not having to worry about a racist perception of myself is one of the best luxuries, that-shouldn’t-be-a-luxury-but-just-normal, I have in Japan. I’m free baby! Free from the high-level and low-level racism that plagues every day black life in America. All of the shootings by white cops, and the displays of aggression by obvious racists like Donald Trump are out in the open and we can meet those things head on. But it’s that low-level racism from people who often don’t consider themselves racist that gets to you by making you question yourself. All of the micro-aggressions accumulate over the years and if you don’t clean them out of your subconscious they kinda linger.

And one of the biggest problems is that racism starts to take your focus away from living because there’s this big rock chained to your leg that is pulling on you. It’s taking away from your creativity, the very thing you came to this earth to do.

In his recent book Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates urges his son to not succumb to the American dream. Coates argues that believing in that dream is a trap for black Americans who were and still are the victims of a dream that was built on ‘looting and violence’. For me, and I’m sure many black Americans, what we really want is to live free of racism and the problems that come with racist oppression. And for me to type that in 2015 is confounding.

Coates goes on to say:

Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism— the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them— inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men.

– Coates, Ta-Nehisi (2015-07-14). Between the World and Me (p. 7). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

How do you deal with something that is at once unreal yet everyone believes in it and acts in a way that makes it physical reality? I’m over here shouting “race isn’t real, neither white race nor black race.” And people are looking at me like I’m the crazy one. I actually gave a presentation in grad school where this happened.

One way to deal with it is to just forget about it and live in Tokyo, for me at least. I know other people don’t have that option. The upside is that living here has unleashed a lot of creative expression on my part. I’m starting my own business giving architecture tours here called Tokyotecture. In the process I’m learning new skills, and meeting people from around the world. One of my favorite things to do is just to walk around the city and find new buildings and explore a new area. And to say that I get paid to do that is pretty exciting.

My Tokyo dream is to build Tokyotecture into a company that immerses travelers in Japanese culture through architecture and design. It would also shed light on different urban design solutions that are distinguished from patterns that are typical of American cities designed for cars. Most areas in Tokyo were rebuilt after World War II by people using any materials they could find and making decisions on the fly about where a street would meander or how wide to make the street. Sometimes that results in very strange arrangements, but mostly the city has a network of small streets that are ideal for walking and discourage driving.

Growing Tokyotecture while promoting tourism that is educational and eye opening will satisfy my creative urge and I have tons of room to grow. I still need to get around to learning Japanese. I want a cool host in Omotesando designed by a Japanese architect. And the rest of Asia is still waiting for me to visit. So for now, I’m giving up my dream of living in West Los Angeles, eating organic cold press juice, and going to Santa Monica pier concerts in the summer. Hopefully, while I’m gone America can fix itself. Crosses fingers. But I’m not counting on it.

Write a comment below or ask me questions about life in Japan. Also check out the gallery, follow me on instagram @tokyotecture and @mfree27.

To get an idea of what my Architecture walks are like and to book one just click here.

 

 

 

Why Tokyo is (Now) the best city in the world for Halloween

IMG_1223Halloween in Tokyo has exploded over the past five years with a countless number of people gathering in Shibuya all decked out in some of the most creative costumes seen anywhere. The Shibuya crossing is famous for its mad rush of people going in every direction on a normal busy day, but for Halloween it was so crowded that you couldn’t control the direction you were walking in and just had to go with the flow, literally, to make it out of the crowd. Scores of police officers lined the street to keep some sense of the order and organization that Japan has become famous for around the world. The crowds were so big that police couldn’t force everyone onto the sidewalk during an impromptu block party where Tokyo drifters with their flashy cars blasted music, and crowd goers jumped up and down in unison, all with Halloween smiles on their faces.

Start planning your 2016 Tokyo Halloween trip now because next year will be even bigger than 2015. Here are 5 reasons why Tokyo has become the biggest and best Halloween celebration in world.

  1. The People: when Japanese people decide to dress up they go all out. After all, if you’re going to do something why not do it right? And why not combine two completely unrelated cultural icons to make a fun costume like my best friend from the night Mummy T-Rex in the photo above.
  2. Shibuya: Shibuya station is one of the busiest train stations in the world and the area itself is also famous for its nightlife, shopping and having a good time. The bright lights of Center Gai, or Centa-gai, makes for a great setting where everyone can be seen walking down the street. The street itself is devoid of cars allowing for a great street party.
  3. Public Drinking: drinking in public, as opposed to in a bar, is legal in Japan. The Japanese have a storied tradition of public drinking that is often celebrated on weekends and during festivals.
  4. The girls: Or should I say women? Japanese women are masters at dressing up in large groups all wearing the same costume. From playboy bunnies to army girls there are tons of girl groups to take photos with.
  5. Play time: Japan is famous for the hard work that everyone puts into everything, but come Halloween it’s play time and everyone just lets loose and opens up. It’s easy to make Halloween friends when you’re dressed up and having a good time.

If you’re looking to come to Japan and have a good time I recommend coming for Halloween. If Halloween is on a week day make sure that you research when the big celebration will take place.

Maybe I’ll travel forever because Japan, and Singapore.

  
You know, I like America, it’s a nice country to live in, especially if you’re white. I’m not white. After a year and half of living in Japan, I’ve decided that I really enjoy being treated well and treating others well. It’s called the golden rule, and ‘Murica could really use a double-dose, what-goes-around-comes-around portion of golden rule ethos. Call me cray, but I like countries where everyone gets a fair shot at success and happiness. Common respect is the low bar for Japan, being Japanese is like a ticket into the VIP section of a club where everyone is VIP anyway. 

Being black in America? That’s the anti-VIP, unless you’re Jay-Z, or Beyoncé, and you’re the king and queen of blackness. Bow down bitches. 

I’m not complaining, I’ve had my fair share of privilege. Went to the best private high school in the South, and a top-ten graduate program. I’m lucky and grateful for it. Any successful black person in their late twenties or thirties will realize that it’s not good enough to be one of a few. It just isn’t healthy to have this barrier between us and our brothers and sisters who are suffering at the hands of forces we can’t control and are so often hidden from “reality”. 

I went back to the states a few weeks ago and was reminded that what I think of myself, is not what others, specifically white racist cops, think of me. Yeah, a cop tried to come into the house I was staying without having a warrant because as he put it, “I have to make sure you don’t have any guns.”

I told him, “I don’t have guns dude.” And spent the next few minutes trying get him away from my door because I was sure that he had a gun, and a taser, and an unnecessarily belligerent attitude.  With the wrong move on his part, not mine because I’m smart enough to know how his psyche works, I could have been joining Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown on the other side. 

Like I said I like America, but I’ll take it in doses. 

For black Americans traveling is a form of therapy. Who needs a psychologist when you can just reset your neurons in a place like Japan, Singapore, Thailand or anywhere that doesn’t have a history of codified racism. 

  
I’ve spent a week in Singapore and I can tell you that this place is a great place to live. I am into cultural exchange, but after a year in Japan it’s nice to speak English in an Asian country. I get a better sense of what Asia is about by speaking with Singaporeans about the Asia Pacific region. And even though Tokyo is the largest city in Asia with major political and economic power Singapore feels more international as a city. Singapore receives 12 million visitors per year. That’s a lot for a city of 5 million. It’s also 2 million more than all visitors to Japan. The city is also easy to get around using multiple modes of transportation. Buses are faster here than in other cities I’ve been to, and the subway system is convenient and clean. I find the trains are spacious with ample seating, but not as convenient as trains in Tokyo. A few improvements to the information and communication displays, and the addition of more frequent arrivals would make the train more convenient. I haven’t driven here but I have taken taxis and Uber and I can say that the service and price of both are reasonable. 

When I imagine living here there are a few other small details that make Singapore attractive as a livable city. 

  1. Location in Asia: Places like Phuket, Bangkok Kuala Lumpur and other cities in Asia are a quick and affordable flight away. The country is small and if you want to get out and explore it’s pretty easy to hop on a plane for international flights. There are several budget airlines that have low rates to SE Asia cities. Also, Singapore Airlines provides one of the best flight experiences in the business. If I lived here I would rack up the KrysFlyer miles on longer haul flights out of Singapore.
  2. Good food at great prices: There are thousands of “uncles” and “aunties” here who work hard to make some of the best food I’ve had in any country I’ve been to. A lot of Singaporeans don’t cook much at home never it’s much easier to go the hawker centre close to your house and get a quick meal. The food here is still homemade and wholesome instead of the processed pre-cooked stuff that dominates much of the food in other industrialized countries. There’s also an abundance of tropical fruit at low prices, something I missed while living in Tokyo. 
  3. Good Weather: I’m a weather buff who enjoys perfect to near perfect weather. It’s one reason I loved living in Los Angeles. You can’t beat that Mediterranean weather. It’s been dry here in Singapore so far. I’ve read that it rains often but doesn’t always last all day long. And the temperature and (high) humidity stay pretty even throughout the year. As uncomfortable as the humidity may get I’ll take it over freezing winter weather. 

At this point in my life I don’t have a place that I can  say for sure is my real home. I identify with California the most in terms of lifestyle and outlook on life. I enjoy an easygoing life near the ocean with diverse people while being connected to the earth and the Milky Way Galaxy. I spent most of my life living in New Orleans where my family is from. I’ve outgrown NOLA, it’s not big enough or international enough. I prefer global cities. One reason I love Tokyo, also there’s a gazillion things to discover and it’s always changing. Being the largest city in the world makes it a bit too much at times. You give up a lot in terms of personal space when you live in Tokyo. What you get in return is a high degree of safety, convenience and a level of societal politeness only experienced in Japan. 

I want to experience all the benefits that the world has to offer. I’ll continue my “long wave” form of travel and take this show to Europe for a few years. Even when I’m based out of California I’ll have to travel often to keep life fresh. 

Check out a few photos of Singapore below. And subscribe to MikeFree27.com for more stories from Asia, Europe and wherever the wind takes me.

   
            

Not So Slim in Singapore: eating and talking with locals.

   
One of the best ways to travel is to have no expectations of the place you’re going and just go. It’s a good approach if you have time and flexibility. A creative and curious mind also helps you make the most of your trip. I had all of those qualities coming to Singapore. I just wanted to stay here as long as I could to feel what it’s like living in a South East Asian city. My travels usually take on this quality of joining the locals in their everyday lives as much as I can. I want to know what it’s like to live in a place. 

The other night a few Singaporean girls asked me what were my plans for the weekend. I replied that I was just going to walk around and make sure that I came home with great fruit at a good price. They said I sounded like a local. 

I wasn’t shooting for that response but I’ll take it as a compliment. And a guidepost towards a job well done. Tourism isn’t my thing. In fact, I don’t really know what it is. I think tourism is when you go to as many places as you can fit into your trip in order to say that you did all of the things that other tourists did. Tourism satisfies most people’s thirst to “see something different.” 

I want to feel something different. If there is a such thing as a boundary between a tourist and a local I don’t want to know about it. I’m okay seeing people for who they are and not expecting them to put on an act for me. I assume this is what tourism is about.     

Today, a guy working in one of the markets I visited eagerly asked me, “what country are you from? What country are you from?” I said that I’m from America and he responded by saying that I couldn’t be because I didn’t look American. He then asked me what part of Africa I’m from. I think many, not all, black Americans would have taken offense to that question or at least have been confused by his inquiry. Whenever I travel and even just walking around in the U.S. I get asked where I’m from. I’ve heard everything from Egypt, to South America, and even been confused for a Hindi speaker in Delhi. I enjoy joking around with folks. My latest is to tell them I’m aboriginal Australian. I kind of look like them with my hair growing longer than I’ve had it in the past. Don’t take it the wrong way, I really respect my brothers and sisters in Austrailia. 
I made it clear to him that I’m ‘Murican in my best Texas rancher imperialist voice that I could muster. And then he said, “we don’t get many blacks in Singapore.” Then he went on about the texture of our hair, “you never know where someone is from. Sometimes the hair is curly, sometime it’s straight, sometimes it’s so thick and other times thin.” 

I was impressed by his detailed knowledge of black hair textures. I’m pretty sure he covered all the bases. I then asked, knowing the general mixture of Singaporean people, what made up his DNA. Was he Malay, Chinese or something else? 
He said, “look at my skin!” Pointing to his arm and making it clear that he wasn’t mostly Chinese but instead came from Thai roots born by his mother. “I’m only a little Chinese and mostly Thai.” I could hear that he was proud of being Thai. I guess the skin thing is something that people pay attention to in Asia as well. Maybe moreso in the Southern regions where the sun turns people’s skin a variety of colors. 

I’m only beginning to scratch the surface of what it means to live in Singapore. One thing that you’re guaranteed if you live here is access to delicious and satiating food at mind boggling prices. Singapore is a global trading hub which makes it a global food hub. And it’s not just that they have any kind of Asian food you can imagine it’s that every thing tastes amazing. By the time the food get to your mouth it’s been vetted by the discerning tastes of Singaporean locals who know a good thing when they taste it. 

Today, I had Indonesian BBQ that was so good I had to try it twice. First, I ate fried chicken with a curry sauce, sautéed okra and rice. Next, I had a curry chicken set with spinach and rice. The guy who makes it is very demanding; he wants you to know exactly what you want before you go to him to order. Don’t waste his time with hesitation over getting this thing or that. You’ll understand why once you sit down and eat your food. Eating the first bite of fried chicken dipped in the Indonesian gravy will make you want to book your next flight out of Singapore to Jakarta. He’s made a dish so good that it has you pondering how he made it, why he made it and what keeps him going at his age. 

If you aren’t satisfied with your food here you know you’re doing something wrong. In three days I’ve enjoyed everything I ate. Maybe it’s that feeling of gratification that keeps the 5 million or so Singaporeans here in this tiny country year after year. 

Check out a few pictures below and subscribe for more stories from Singapore, Japan and wherever the wind takes me next.

  
 

  

Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On (feat. MØ)

I love this new video Lean On from Major Lazer and DJ Snake with vocals from MØ. What a great combination of cultures aesthetics and sound coming together in this video. Surrounded by beautiful Indian dancers, MØ makes a good focal point with her free spirited style attached to the choreographed dances. Diplo, DJ Snake Jillionaire and Walshy Fire round out the video in a true Indian spirit of coming together through music.

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Here’s a great quote from Diplo on making the video in India: “India is special and its beauty absolutely humbled me. When we toured there as Major Lazer, it was mind blowing to see our fan-base and we wanted to incorporate the attitude and positive vibes into our video and just do something that embodies the essence of Major Lazer. Major Lazer has always been a culture mashup and to us, India feels like some kind of special creature with one foot in history and one firmly in the future. The experience is something we’ll never forget.“

®☮ PEACE IS THE MISSION ®☮ PRE-ORDER MAJOR LAZER’S NEW ALBUM OUT JUNE 1: http://smarturl.it/PITMiTunes STREAM LEAN ON: SPOTIFY – http://smarturl.it/MajorLazerHits SOUNDCLOUD – http://smarturl.it/LeanOnStream DOWNLOAD LEAN ON: ITUNES – http://smarturl.it/LeanOniTunes AMAZON – http://smarturl.it/LeanOnAmazon BEATPORT – http://smarturl.it/LeanOnBP FOLLOW MAJOR LAZER: WEBSITE – http://www.majorlazer.com FACEBOOK – http://smarturl.it/MajorLazerFB TWITTER – http://smarturl.it/MajorLazerTwitter INSTAGRAM – http://smarturl.it/MajorLazerInstagram SOUNDCLOUD – http://smarturl.it/MajorLazerSoundcloud GET MAJOR LAZER GEAR WEBSTORE – http://www.LazersNeverDie.com Director – Tim Erem Producer – Per Welén Prod. Co – Diktator DoP – Jacob Möller Editor – Leila Sarraf (Trim Editing) Colorist – Matt Osborne (The Mill) Stylist – Violetta Kassapi India Crew: Producer – Mikhail Mehra Producer – Akshay Multani Associate Director – Mikhail Mehra Assistant DOP – Zaryan Patel Assistant Stylist – NorBlack NorWhite Line Producer – Durgesh Dadich Choreographer – Paresh Shirodkar Production company: Motion Eccentricá Special thanks to VH1 Supersonic and Oji

Song of the New Earth

Song of the New Earth:Tom Kenyon and the Power of Sound is a new documentary about one man’s quest to integrate modern science and ancient mysticism through sound. -SNE

Watching Tom Kenyon’s experience in Song of the New Earth will open your mind to new ways of experiencing life. Tom Kenyon undergoes a personal transformation through sound, and he shares his experience with audiences around the world. Now we are fortunate to have a full length documentary that is eye opening but also funny and heart warming.

Click the link to watch Song of the New Earth.

My Mother’s Unborn Fetus in Technicolor

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2001: A Space Odyssey

What was that?!

Waking up from a luminous dream. Is this what really goes on in my psyche? 

With my vision clear and bright I saw a fetus spinning in mid air. A pink fetus spinning in mid air unattached, no umbilical cord, no placenta. Actually, it looked more like a pink hippopotamus than a tiny baby. But I clearly understood that he came from my mother.  Can you see it? I wish I could talk in

Logo_Technicolor_Q

Behind him in the distance was my nude mother, the image blurry. I’m sure there’s a technical term for this cinematic effect – I’m not a director, Spielberg.

And then the words from a non-local source, “he was miscarried.”

Anyone have a clue what this means?

My best guess is that the soul contacted me through the dream. You know, just to say hi. “What’s up it’s me. I just called to say hi and I miss you. No worries, I’ll see you when you cross over to the other side. Maybe we can hang out on earth the next time we reincarnate.”

Or maybe the same soul did reincarnate on earth and it’s a sign that he or she is in my life.

Today, I remembered this dream that occurred a month ago after I came across a local shrine here in Tokyo where families place stone dolls on an alter to ensure the safety of miscarried babies. The ritual is meant to protect them so they don’t get lost between worlds. Here’s a picture.

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Before there were psychiatrists we had each other and we had spirituality. I imagine that this ritual is really helpful to women and men who recently lost their babies. The ritual called Mizuko Kuyo reemerged in Japan in the 1970’s. As you can see, the statues are dressed up like babies in a kawaii (cute) manner. Playfulness and affection have their place in ritual.

My mother told me that she had a miscarriage so the information from the dream wasn’t as surprising as the content and imagery. It happened some time after I was born. I wonder how my mother felt about her miscarriage. She was a spiritual woman at the time. She must have sent love and affection to the soul that didn’t make it to earth at the time. My sixth sense tells me that whoever that soul was is doing just fine now.

Love and Light,

Mike Free

You can read more about Mizuko Kuyo with this article from The Embryo Project Encyclopedia at Arizona State University.

by Katherine Brind’Amour, Benjamin Garcia

Mizuko Kuyo is a Japanese Buddhist ceremony that focuses on a deceased fetus or stillborn child. This ceremony was originally developed to honor Jizo, a god believed to be responsible for transporting dead fetuses or children to the other world. The practice has become more popular in the last half century due to the growing number of abortions taking place and the particular views that Japanese Buddhists have about fetuses and abortion. Japanese Buddhists believe that honoring Jizo will ensure that their abortedfetus successfully makes it to the other world, where it can be reborn in the future. In a religious context, Mizuko Kuyo provides an example of one of the many ways that fetuses are viewed and treated both in natural death and in abortion.

Literally, Mizuko Kuyo is the “water child memorial service” and the ceremony is deeply meaningful for those who practice it. Traditionally, the mizuko were buried underneath the parents’ house since it was believed that the natural water would wash the mizuko to the natural springs under the earth’s surface. It was believed that these springs were part of the beginning of life. The mizuko, or water child, is said to go from the water of the womb to its original liquid state upon its death. Water is important in Japanese Buddhism, as it represents both death and a faithful acknowledgment that the child will be reborn. Mizuko Kuyo is traditionally practiced on three main holidays. These are the spring equinox, the summer solstice, and a day referred to as “bon,” which is a summer day typically used to honor ancestors.

The mizuko are also celebrated at the Buddhist temples. At the temple the parents may buy a stone tomb and place a statue of Jizo on top of it. This statue usually has a red bib and Jizo is holding a stick with bells on top of it to help the mizuko walk. The stone also has the word “kaimyo” written on it, a traditional name given to someone after they pass away. Jizo statues may be placed in a park outside the temple. These parks are designed specifically for the mizuko and often contain swings, slides, and other playground equipment that children usually play on.

Although these tombs and playgrounds may seem like places to grieve, it is often exactly the opposite. In fact, they are quite happy places. Families of the aborted fetuses or deceased children come to these playgrounds to clean their statues and observe a moment of silence for their mizuko. They put seasonal clothing on Jizo and even set up umbrellas to cover them from the rain. While their other children play, the mothers, and sometimes the fathers, take a bow to honor their mizuko. They also bring toys and flowers and light candles to honor them.

Japanese Buddhism does not regard abortion as harshly as many religions and societies do. Abortion is becoming a common practice in Japan due to its cultural acceptance as a social necessity to protect family values. Mizuko Kuyo is practiced in order to prevent people from feeling that abortion is becoming trivialized and to provide the parents with a therapy for understanding their emotions and dealing with their loss.

Sources

  1. Green, Ronald. “The Mizuko Kuyo Debate: An Ethical Assessment.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 67 (1999): 809–23.
  2. Keown, Damien. Contemporary Buddhist Ethics. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 2000.

Subject:

Fetal propitiatory rites–Buddhism;; Abortion;; Fetus;; Stillbirth;; Buddhism; Fetal propitiatory rites–Buddhism;; Abortion;; Fetus;; Stillbirth;; Buddhism; Concept

How to Cite:

Brind’Amour, Katherine,, Garcia, Benjamin, “Mizuko Kuyo”. Embryo Project Encyclopedia (2007-10-30). ISSN: 1940-5030 http://embryo.asu.edu/handle/10776/1716.

Last Modified:

Friday, November 7, 2014 – 12:33

Publisher:

Arizona State University. School of Life Sciences. Center for Biology and Society. Embryo Project Encyclopedia.

Rights:

© Arizona Board of Regents Licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

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