Sange (to scatter flowers) (散華)

Sange means as follows. To scatter flowers as a kuyo (to make offerings) to Buddha. One of the Buddhist memorial services according to Shika (four ritual styles of Daihoe (great Buddhist memorial service)), (Nika (two ritual styles) according to Esoteric Buddhism). A kind of Shomyo (chanting of Buddhist hymns).

The Sange held at a hoe (Buddhist mass) is accompanied by chanting.

The prose part in the Buddhist scriptures. The gemon (Recitation of verses) part is called Kange.

A metaphor of death in battle.

Sange in a Buddhist sense
It is an act based on a tradition that people and heavenly gods scattered flowers to celebrate the descents of Buddha and Bosatsu (Bodhisattva). A typical example is the story of Judobonshi (previous existence of Shakamuni) performing kuyo by scattering flowers over Nento-butsu (Buddha Burning Torch).

At solemn Buddhist memorial services held in temples, flowers and leaves are scattered to make offerings to Buddha. It is said that sange at Buddhist memorial services is intended to ward off evil and purify the dojo (place of Buddhist practice or meditation) by the scent of flowers before welcoming Buddha.

Originally, lotus and other fresh flowers were used but today lotus-shaped colored paper is used instead. As the shape suggests, it is cut in the shape of a lotus flower. It is closely linked to Shakyamuni, and scattered at funerals and other occasions to make offerings to Buddha.

At Nyubutsu Kaigen (the ceremony to consecrate a newly made Buddhist statue) and rakkei hoyo (a memorial service to celebrate the construction of a temple) of temples, a large amount of sange is scattered, making an impressive scene. Some people even collect sange.

Sange as a metaphor of death in battle. This is a homonym of the aforementioned sange in a Buddhist senge, meaning scattering flowers of lives. Originally, Japan has a tradition of finding beauty in transience as seen in 'mono no aware (the sadness or pathos of things)' affected by Mujokan (Buddhist concept of the impermanence of worldly things) in Buddhism. Here, it was linked to the view of death. Because cherry blossoms are quick to fall and remind transience, they became the symbol of sange. Note that "flowers" meant Japanese apricot blossoms in the Heian and earlier periods.

Sange is the glamorized expression that refers to Japanese soldiers dying in battle. In particular, it refers to someone who sacrifices his/her life to save others in battle (regardless of the result). Along with gyokusai (honorable suicide, literally, jade shards), it is the term glorifying death in battle. Sange is often used synonymously as gyokusai, but it is more often used for death of a member in the special attack units. However, death of an officer who has the title of general or upper ranks is referred to as sange regardless of how he died. When a Japanese soldier was killed in duty, by accident, by war damage such as an air raid, died of illness, or when a soldier other than Japanese was killed in action, the term sange is not usually used.

Often, the flower here means cherry blossoms. On the contrary, camellia is not favored because all the camellia flower petals falling at once is compared to a 'fallen head,' and associated with beheading of a criminal.

[Original Japanese]