Japan is a Buddhist country, and this manifests itself in some interesting ways. Several national holidays are Buddhist for example, such as Obon in August when the entire country shuts down for three days so everyone can return to their parents’ homes to greet the spirits of dead family members who return home for a visit. One concept I’ve encountered quite often is rin-ne (REEN-neh), the endless cycle of death and rebirth, which basically says that a person’s children will lead pretty much the same life as their parents, a pattern that can be hard to break out of. One good example of the cycle of rin-ne being broken is acclaimed comedian/director “Beat” Takeshi Kitano. His father was Kikujiro, a poor house painter who drank all the time, and it was expected that Takeshi would follow in his father’s footsteps. Takeshi’s mother Saki, however, was adamant that her son would break away from their family’s cycle of poverty, so she did part-time jobs secretly to save money to buy study books so her son could attend university one day. I’d say it worked out pretty well.
Takeshi Kitano’s mother was determined to break the rin-ne cycle.