One thing I don't think I will ever get used to here in Japan is the amount of praying that is done after someone dies. The memorial services seem to be never ending . From what I can tell.... after the funeral the priest comes to the house to pray on the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, 35th, 42nd and 49th day after someone dies (at which time the ashes of the deceased are taken from the family alter and put into the family grave).
Then there are memorial services on the 1 year, 2 year, 6 year, 12 year, 33 year and 50 year anniversary of someone's death as well as during August 13-15 the year after someone dies. Of course this varies between areas and families, but I think this is a reasonably standard time line. Each time the priest comes he is paid some more money and each guest who comes also gives some money and recieves a gift when they leave to the value of approximately half the amount the gave. This kind of custom is definately keeping the economy alive here!
Today we had the memorial service for my husband's grandmother who died two years ago. Basically they consist of 45 minutes of continual chanting by the priest followed by a meal with the guests. Fortunately there are many companies who make these meals and bring it to your house, complete with small tables and cushions. Of course there is an important order to where to sit - men at the head (in order of age - oldest at the top) and women and children at the bottom - closest to the kitchen.
In some ways I really like the way the Japanese remember their ancestors so much, but at other times I find it really difficult to sit on my knees listening to all the chanting without falling asleep......