Purification is a ritual to cleanse the body before departure. It’s called “YUKAN”.
In the Japanese Buddhism, other than Jodo Shinshu sect, after death, one’s soul will have to make a 49 day journey to be with Shakamuni Buddha. The ritual is held every 7 days, starting from the day of death. Then usually after the 7th 7 day, the 49th day, the bones are buried under the family grave.
The purification ritual starts just before placing in the coffin.
In the past, there were vehicles that had bath tubs and place the body in the tub (within the car) and wash the body, albeit rigor mortis. But this is highly dangerous and contagious nowadays and funeral directors have stopped doing this in many places (there are places that practice this, without hesitation).
During this ritual, the body is dressed up for the journey.
First, the survived family gathers around the body. From the closest relative, each is given a wet towel to wipe. There is a way of making this bucket of water.
This bucket is filled with water first and add hot water to make it luke warm.
When a baby is born, the midwife would get a bucket by filling the hot water and pouring cold water to adjust the temperature. Funeral is the opposite. So, the ritual is to do the opposite by adding hot water to the cold.
Each member wipes (very softly) the skin of the deceased. You have to tell them that since the cells are dead, there is no recovery if skin is damaged. Don’t forget that if a person has died at the hospital, the medical team has already cleansed and stuffed and you don’t want to undo any of it. Each family wipes from the head to toes, from top to bottom. You don’t want to wipe your feet and wipe your face with the same towel so you’d have to work from the head to toes.
After having wiped the body where shown, family members will endress the deceased with special “traveling clothe” — it’s called “Tabi Jitaku”.
This “Tabi Jitaku” prepares the deceased with white clothe and gown. On both hands, will cover with glove that just hooked over the middle finger, on the shin, another cover, on the feet, Japanese traditional socks called “tabi”, but will wear it on opposite side (left goes right, and vice versa), around the neck, a pochette, with a printed “6 mon sen” — traveling expense of crossing the “river” that separates from this world and the dead. Around the hand, family will place the Japanese version of rosario (Juzu). Then finally, will place a triangular tiara called “Tenkan” — “Ten no Kanmuri”, which is the symbol of sign of the dead. After all of this, instead of having to wear the gown (white robe), due to rigor mortis, family will just place it upside down when the body is in the coffin. Don’t forget that the Japanese belief is that world is upside down.
Survived family will grab the sheet that the deceased is sleeping on and will place it in the coffin. Then the gown is laid on the top (upside down). Then family will place in the belongings of the deceased in the coffin (note that there are items that cannot be placed in the coffin due to danger of explosion and/or damaging the bones in the furnace). Then the coffin cover is closed until the end of the funeral, waiting for departure.