And I swear I had no idea.
The actual details on what will befall those I have cursed are a bit sketchy.
FIL was filling me in and I get the feeling I am the first person he knows to ever do anything this heinous and therefore there is no precedent to go on.
And what unspeakable action was it that I am guilt of?
Surely it should be obvious by now?
The bed in our guest room/ graveyard for superceded computers/ grain storage area has the headboard to the north wall.
It wasn't actually an aesthetic choice, more that it avoids people having to climb over the headboard to get into bed or sleep with their head in the alcove for the old built-in kero heater which was taken out after I recognised it in a poster for a recall of heaters that could gas you a few years back (now that would have been very bad luck!)
Anyway, I was helping MIL open her new bottle of pre-bed eye goop last night and FIL was all chatty asking me if we ever use the computers anymore and how much rice we think we'll get this year etc etc and mentioned that he hoped he could sleep after the sun came up what with an east facing window right by his head.
That's north. The east facing window is all shaded out by the bamboo grove. DOn't worry about it.
Other than the bitter midwinter North wind I couldn't think of any problems with this particular direction and therefore any reason FIL was getting so excited about this.
Heather. In Japan you should NEVER sleep with your head facing North. And you should definitely not make me face with my head to the North!!
As I am pretty used to FIL by now (he mentions at least once a trip that Meg's kanji name doesn't have good balance. But he does realise that it's really hard to balance anything with Fukase... I haven't asked what exactly a 'balanced' name looks like because I'm sure I wouldn't agree with it anyway as I think Meg's name is just fine, right?)
Anyway, I calmly asked what exactly was wrong with sleeping with your head to the North and FIL explained that bodies are laid out North/ South at wakes here so sleeping that way is a huge no-no.
I once had a complete stranger practically attack me in a ryokan to change the direction of my robe as I had it on the dead people way...
And I have been guilty of sticking my chopsticks into my rice vertically too which is only for feeding dead people.
I guess I'm some kind of only-in-Japan goth or something, hey?
I pointed out to FIL that he has stayed in that very bed on numerous occasions, as have many other people, and as far as I know they are all happy, healthy and still speaking to me so I think he should be alright.
FIL was not mollified and had to call K in.
How could he have done this?
Why did he tell FIL all that time ago that the bed was placed facing East???
K thought about it for a moment...
'Oh... I've just realised that's not East....'
We've been living here seven years now.....
I'm pretty sure the sun has risen in the East on every one of those days...
And I haven't told FIL that actually all the beds in the house face North...
I don't think he could take it at the moment...