Monday, October 19, 2015

Japanese Museum Displays 200 Year Old Reincarnation Claim From Young Boy

Boy's reincarnation claim from 200 years ago 

featured in exhibition in Tokyo suburb


Sumie Kitamura shows boards depicting the story of Katsugoro, who claimed he had lived a past life as another boy during the Edo Period, at a museum in Hino, on the outskirts of western Tokyo, on Oct. 6. (Kosei Kito)

HINO, Tokyo--In an early reincarnation claim, a young boy became a sensation about 200 years ago after declaring that he remembered living a previous life as another boy who had died at the age of 6.
Since repeated claims by Katsugoro, 8, sounded plausible, his parents made inquiries through others whether the boy, named Tozo, actually lived in the village as he stated.
All the evidence supported Katsugoro’s memories during investigations, prompting authorities to even compile reports on the mysterious case.
A commemorative exhibition featuring the reported reincarnation, dating to the Edo Period (1603-1867), is on show at the Shinsengumi Furusato History Museum here through Nov. 15 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Katsugoro’s birth.
“We want to pass down the reports on this case to future generations as a rare example of documenting a rebirth while that person was still alive,” said Sumie Kitamura, who works for the local history museum in Hino.
She is a member of a group of local residents who gathered exhibits about Katsugoro’s life and the results of research looking into similar accounts of reincarnation in Japan and elsewhere for the event.
Katsugoro’s episode was also reported by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), a Greek-born writer who introduced Japanese legends and ghost stories to the world.
A chapter titled “The Rebirth of Katsugoro” is included in his book “Gleanings in Buddha-Fields: Studies of Hand and Soul in the Far East,” which was published in the United States and Britain in 1897.
Katsugoro was born to a farming family in the village called Nakano, which is today’s Hachioji, on Oct. 10, 1815.
When he was 8, he began claiming repeatedly that in a past life he was Tozo, who died of smallpox in Hodokubo village, which is part of what is now Hino.
His parents confirmed after contacting others that a boy named Tozo, in fact, lived in Hodokubo and passed away at age 6.
Katsugoro further stunned people around him by giving elaborate details of Tozo’s home, as well as of Hodokubo, when he visited the village with his grandmother. It was the first time he had visited there.
Katsugoro’s story of his "reincarnation" spread swiftly through Edo, which the capital was known as during the Edo Period.
His tale generated so much interest that it was covered in many documents.
Daimyo Ikeda Kanzan (1767-1833) visited Katsugoro’s home to interview his grandmother about him and assembled the findings in a manuscript known as the “Tale of rebirth of Katsugoro.” It was shared by many writers and artists back then.
The feudal lord of Nakano submitted a report to the Tokugawa shogunate after investigating Katsugoro's claims and his father.
The report even came to the attention of Hirata Atsutane (1776-1843), one of the most prominent scholars of Japanese classics at that time. Hirata interviewed Katsugoro and penned a manuscript on his tale of reincarnation.
Katsugoro died in 1869 at the age of 55 after spending his life as a farmer.
A research project on pre-existence and rebirth is currently under way at the medical department of the University of Virginia and elsewhere.
The University of Virginia project is said to be partly inspired by Hearn’s writing on Katsugoro.

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