664 The Life of Oharu

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movielocke
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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#51 Post by movielocke » Sun Jul 14, 2013 5:09 pm

No, I haven't seen Crucified Lovers, that and Utamaro and his five women are my biggest Mizoguchi blindspots now.

I think Oharu, which leaves a viewer numb is a special enough case that it's understandable I paused it halfway through. Mizoguchi is pretty unrelenting in the film, and I think breaking the film into two viewings helps me to appreciate the film and it's craft more. For comparison, the first time I saw Sansho, I saw it in the theatre. It was a miserable, soul crushing experience, and I'd probably like the film more if I hadn't had to sit there dying inside at all the unrelenting agony. OTOH, you never know how a film is going to play out for you; the first time I ever saw Ugetsu was also in a theatre, and I didn't experience a series of little deaths while watching it, rather I was elated at all aspects of the film.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#52 Post by Theresa0214 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:47 pm

I owned the British Artificial Eye version of Oharu and it was always one of my favorite films - However, this new release (on Blu Ray) is absolutely incredible. Well done Criterion for such an amazing release. I have not seen as many films by Mizoguchi as some of you guys, but what I have seen, I have thoroughly enjoyed. I do have to say though that about six months ago I read an article (maybe a chapter) about the director, and in-particular this film. The chapter I read really opened my eyes to a lot of things that were going on in the movie and made the whole viewing experience a whole lot tenser!! Also, it was a lot better and more revealing than the booklet that came with the Blu Ray. I will try to remember and link the article because I think that many of you would really enjoy it.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#53 Post by manicsounds » Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:45 am

imdb, jmdb, wikipedia lists 148 minutes.
Toho site, National Film Center of Japan, Criterion Blu-ray lists 137 minutes.

Can't find any info about the movie being shortened or cut.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#54 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:29 pm

I've never read any book/article that suggested there is any "longer version" of Oharu.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#55 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:25 am

I know I've mentioned the Cahiers' crew predilection for Mizoguchi, but I just revisited Rivette's list of the greatest films of all time as submitted to Sight and Sound in 1962 and I had forgotten that he ranked this film at number one!

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#56 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:43 pm


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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#57 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:46 pm

domino harvey wrote:I know I've mentioned the Cahiers' crew predilection for Mizoguchi, but I just revisited Rivette's list of the greatest films of all time as submitted to Sight and Sound in 1962 and I had forgotten that he ranked this film at number one!
It would definitely be a strong contender for my top ten. It was impossible to find (at least in decent quality) until I moved to NYC and saw a screening at MoMA from a good 35mm print. I knew it had been hailed as a masterpiece but I was absolutely astounded - I was not prepared for what turned out to be one of the most profoundly moving films I had ever seen. I couldn't understand why it was out-of-print, but fortunately Criterion reissued it soon after. I knew Mizoguchi primarily through Ugetsu until maybe 4 or 5 years ago, and perhaps it's just as well - I don't think I could've appreciated Oharu or Sansho the Bailiff had I seen them in high school like I did Ugetsu. What they had to say about women, poverty, social justice and inequality couldn't have resonated without some measure of real world experience or at least a real, mature engagement with the rest of the world.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#58 Post by Trees » Sun May 08, 2016 1:47 am

I love Mizoguchi so much. And the man certainly knows tragedy. While I did not like Oharu as much as Ugetsu or Sansho, it is undoubtedly a masterpiece of misery. I, too, clung to the few moments of hope, though they proved as fleeting as a puff of smoke.

Oharu almost seems like a giant "F you" to the world. I wonder what was going on in Mizo's life during this time period? I am curious to read some biographies about him. Can anyone recommend any good books about Mizoguchi?

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#59 Post by Jack Phillips » Sun May 08, 2016 1:35 pm

Trees wrote: Oharu almost seems like a giant "F you" to the world.
In the way that Buddhism presents the idea, anyway. The world is something for the sufferer to divest himself/herself of. It cannot be done all at once. Oharu shows that it may take a lifetime. Her career is not a straight path, because the world continually offers false hope, and these false hopes impel her to reattach herself to the world, at least for a time. She has to keep relearning how to give everything up. Finally, at the end, as a mendicant nun, she has reached the state of total non-attachment (as I read it). She is a mere step away from Nothingness. I do not speak as a Buddhist myself, but I think I can see where Mizoguchi, who took Buddhism seriously, was going with his film. It's one of his most hopeful works, and perhaps can even be considered his testament film.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#60 Post by Trees » Sun May 08, 2016 2:49 pm

I sense in Oharu a director who is not at peace with Buddhist teachings, but rather, someone who still harbors significant anger and attachment. I could be wrong, but that is what I sense from the film. And while he wrapped it all in a tidy package at the end of the film, I don't think the director was anywhere close to the place where Oharu herself was during the end frames of the film. Thus, my statement about the film being an "F you" to the world.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#61 Post by knives » Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:27 pm

Wow, this is the funniest, smartest, loosest, and all around possibly best Mizoguchi film I've seen. The opening sequence seems like something out of Naruse with its naughty humour and relaxed characters. The hunt for a concubine about a quarter of the way in is one of the most shocking and morbidly hilarious things I've seen in a movie. Only really the opening to Contempt dares to compare. There's still some things about Mizoguchi's camerawork and lighting which sours me a bit, but in turn this is one instance where his text of right wing feminism (as in the feminism comes from a right wing place rather then him necessarily being a right wing person who is a feminist) genuinely works as something which seems compassionate to his female characters. Tanaka seems a bit too old for her character, but it works in a late Ozu dealing with Hara sort of way.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#62 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:29 pm

The source story certainly has a comic aspect, but I must confess I have never perceived any comedy making its way to the surface in Mizoguchi's film.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#63 Post by knives » Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:36 pm

I think it is the exasperation everyone expends on Oharu while she for the most part rolls with things that made it seem funny to me. Chaplin gets mentioned as a source for Mizoguchi, but Tanaka reminds me much more of Keaton in how she uses passivity as an act of defiance. It's almost like a real world person reacting to an absurd society which makes Oharu's divorce from 17th century cruelty rather effective even though I disagree with it.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#64 Post by Kat » Sat Oct 15, 2016 10:46 am

I saw this for the first time last night. A very moving film. A tiring one - but perhaps that is appropriate in conveying her experience. It is my first Mizoguchi.

There was humour - the brothel getaway, the fast palanquin, the mother at loose in the garden. This reminded me of prior greats, I had read he liked Chaplin. But also later, I had a flavour of Monty Python with the Palanquin, nearly, for me, or of Woody Allen a la Sleeper for example in some of those moments. Whilst retaining its overall form and tone. Oh the men also reminded me at times of the men in The Firemen's Ball, especially the vetting of beauty and femininity. But then that can be men anyway, not sure it it would have had to influence Forman.

Newish here and a bit unsure of posting, and I'm not from a film background except as viewer/thinker on them and dreamer of possible films - but something about Buddhism, as I understand it and again I'm not a Buddhist, but yes there is something about seeking no attachment - but I think at the same time that may in fact bring greater presence to the moment, not simply renunciation of the world, but better/fuller being in it, especially in Zen Buddhism. I am not sure if she bows to a temple or to the light in the end (but I have seen it once).

A friend I saw it with pointed out how difficult this film may have been to take for a domestic audience, especially after the circumstances of the preceding decades where society there had taken the turn it had. It made me think about Reformation thinking - and also about current elections and the misuse of language and forms to enforce superficial understandings of form and structure in languages and society when that loses touch with what they are there for to start with. It occurred to me though as this may also be a theme in Japanese culture too, for example in what Zen is after, to find presence and a true or honest place that it also sits within their tradition that must have helped with the experience of it as self critical.

Won't yack more, one that could be discussed endlessly.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#65 Post by Salamanca » Sun Oct 16, 2016 11:12 am

The last comment made me wanna respond, because we gotta be careful about misconceptions. Mizo converted to Buddhism but NOT Zen Buddhism. Also the path of presence leads to the final stage - renunciation.

http://www.innerfrontier.org/InnerWork/ ... s_Plus.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Final image is the image of renunciation. Sarris was right and the criterion folk - toward nirvana.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#66 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Oct 16, 2016 2:15 pm

He apparently converted to Nichiren Buddhism (which is focused primarily on the Lotus Sutra and chanting -- and not on silent meditation).

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#67 Post by Kat » Sun Oct 16, 2016 2:45 pm

thank you Salamanca and Michael - another friend has also been letting me know about this and I have some reading on Nichiren.

I can only speak of my reaction and happy to revise that. I'll read these things and think further.

(I've been out most of the day and this will also need to be moderated I think, hence any delay.)


edit - no no moderation needed, hopefully i am safe to proceed.

We do not see her renounce. We see where she is and what was lost is suggested. But I accept what you say, i'll consider posts more carefully, if I post. That one was moderated.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#68 Post by Salamanca » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:43 pm

Yes we don't see her renounce, so more important to pay attention to image, editing, cinematography. The elision represents a break, detachment from her previous life, an abrupt splitting of the film into all of her existence before her Buddhist vows (not shown) and then her religious life after. Last scene - she is already wearing the attire of a Buddhist nun, the camera doesn't even let us know it is Oharu until later into the scene, her face is deliberately obscured - she has renounced who she is.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#69 Post by Kat » Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:31 pm

Thanks Salamanca, I feel you may have misunderstood what I said about self, perhaps I did not say it clearly - a truer self/no self may be found, she has renounced who she is, whilst I am not suggesting she has achieved enlightenment if she has done this she has better found who she is, I think/feel. I do not doubt she may have renounced self...but then did that come with vows, or was it through a realisation of what had been stripped of her? Her experience (there is a Reformation type point). Do vows do all the work? Does this path only seek and not find? (I will learn more of it.)

It may be after the garden she has been sent to be a nun (why assume she'd be able to choose?) and is now in that role, one given, again, now by her son. Though I did not see it as empty in that way at the end. It may be this is it and she accepts this and the difference is inconsequential.

I'm sure there may be other possibilities.

I need to get the dvd to see the final shot again.

I was interested in the function of the two fainting episodes, that may suggest a span under the influence of things that overwhelm her, passions (?) But that also feels too one dimensional. It also suggests a dream, or nightmare.

The scenes in the temple with the carved disciples were very powerful to me. Undoubtedly incorrectly, they made me think of Fa Tsang's demonstration for the Empress Wu. But I wonder if Oharu is a candle to those wooden mirrors or a crystal ball. It may not need to be a perfect comparison, it is one I will think about. In a way I wondered about it as realisation, mise en scene, of her experience with men throughout. I found it very powerful. It is followed, after illness, by disobedience to convention in the garden (if I remember rightly), disobedience preceded her first faint. I don't know what that means, if it does.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#70 Post by Salamanca » Mon Oct 17, 2016 3:09 am

Kat, path to nirvana isn't about finding truer self. To say she has better found who she is I think imposes a non Buddhist aspect to Buddhism.

Yes, we can never say if she chose life of being a nun. Remember that exile was intended for her not being a nun, so we can assume this was her choice or the only path left to her which she can choose herself. During this time, undesirable people were sent away to live elsewhere, weren't forced into the religious life, so a bit farfetched. Keep in mind she wanted to be a nun earlier in the movie, couldn't dedicate herself to be one because of earthly attachments (her son, her earthly life).

Vows are the first step. She hasn't reached nirvana yet at the end. Like Sarris said, she is drifting toward it.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#71 Post by Kat » Wed Nov 02, 2016 5:36 pm

Salamanca wrote:Kat, path to nirvana isn't about finding truer self. To say she has better found who she is I think imposes a non Buddhist aspect to Buddhism.
If no self is not a truer self, or the truth of self, then what is it? (I think this may not be the place to discuss this much further, perhaps for a Buddhism forum or such?) I think some of what you've told me rests on how you have interpreted my words. As I said before that may partly be as I was not clear. it may also partly be as I tend more toward a Zen view, I hope. I accept Mizoguchi did not.
Salamanca wrote: Vows are the first step. She hasn't reached nirvana yet at the end. Like Sarris said, she is drifting toward it.
I've read back over (mostly scanned) the thread again, was concerned I had missed a user 'Sarris' (! how could I do that) -- but instead saw the helpful exchange that mentions Sarris. I'll have to look for the full comments by Sarris. I enjoyed the analysis of shots in the temple. I see the idea of the fracturing and leaving behind of the past. Really I do.

I have a question - and forgive me as this goes back to the phrase used by david hare above - but if she has left behind her life story and is drifting into infinity, then where exactly is she?

The idea of drifting towards it I am unsure of. Drifting yes, can understand that. I tend to think if infinity is enlightenment you find it or not. It may be by drifting, but is it by drifting towards?

When she (seemed to me) to i) recognise the temple and/or the light and ii) bow to it and/or the light is she drifting then? I don't think so - she seems very present and in touch with the moment and her past, to still do such a thing. I'm not claiming this is redemptive, she seems more in touch with things, that they are such as they are and have been just as they were for her, yet still makes this gesture - to have gone beyond that, yes to be more present (which may be by having renounced her self and past). Maybe the fault is language and also us coming to it from our different directions - maybe the thing is beyond that, and I'd suggest in what we are saying we both have a hold of a part (our part?) of what it is that is suggested.

From a feminist or maybe a feminine perspective perhaps it is interesting if we do not see her as achieving? Perhaps we should also remark on the imagery of her bowing to a tower of a sort? (filled I think with images of saints that seemed to be male?) I find that potentially difficult and unsettling, but some further aspect I can read into the end from how her life has been dominated by men. Has she had to accept yet another role given her and do what she can within it? Does she have to pray for mercy from those that have judged her yet whose action placed her into that very situation? That is an aspect that could haunt me. Does she have to do that but in doing it has she moved beyond this unsettling aspect I've just wondered about? Again, I have to see the film more.

(edit - yes maybe not mercy from, maybe mercy between, or compassion, need to know more of that prayer - but interesting in relation to her experiences (and towards her and from her)).

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#72 Post by Emilio » Wed Nov 23, 2016 8:19 am

During those last moments of this film, one can hear prominently the four universal vows. Which are indeed a departure point for Buddhist practice of the Bodhisattva. The placement suggests, in my opinion, two readings:

1. Oharu remembers her vows she made at the outset and reconfirms the path she has embarked upon. In that sense, I take the ending not so much as a 'drifting towards Nirvana' but rather as a new beginning. And at least an escape from the suffering, and thus the narrative of the film, she has endured so far. 'Drifting towards Nirvana' does not accurately describe the implied actions in the vows. Perhaps it does describe the camera work of this film. Which lines up with the second point;
2. A more universal point of view which declares a 'proper' perspective on life, which Oharu has at last embraced.

I wonder whether these vows were also heard (not translated as here at the climax) during the opening credits?

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#73 Post by Salamanca » Wed Nov 23, 2016 4:15 pm

Kat,

In the Mahayana, the emphasis is on motivation. Renunciation has to do with moving out of a contracted sense of self, the ego; we use our relationship with others to do that, renouncing self-care and moving more toward serving others. In the Vajrayana, renunciation has much more to do with what’s happening inwardly, with letting go of grasping and rejection...

The term “renunciation” does not appear very much in Zen teachings and literature. But within the monastic tradition, of course, it is a part of daily life, much as it is in the Tibetan and Theravada traditions...

http://www.lionsroar.com/forum-the-beau ... unciation/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Freedom towards which Buddhists aspire is of many types, depending on the type and degree of renunciation practised. It can be freedom from the responsibilities of the ‘dusty home life’, the onerous demands of social life, the suffering of attachments to things, people, and opinions. It is freedom from craving for this or that mode of existence. It is ultimately freedom from the bondage of belief in a permanent ‘self’ – freedom from the push and pull of craving and aversion generated by an ego-centred consciousness. It is the Freedom experienced by an Awakened consciousness liberated from the narrow confines of a self-centred personality. This liberated state is one of great peace and profound contentment; it is characterised by universal love and penetrating wisdom; but it is also a state of Great Bliss...

http://www.theradicalbuddhist.org/artic ... unciation/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Where is she? She is on the path of the monastic life.

Don't agree with your feminist reading. The pagoda in the end is obviously not the altar of saints she encounters in the beginning of the film. No need to be disturbed. That Oharu transposes the faces of her earthly attachments onto the Buddhist saints shows that she is not ready for the path of the monastic life. Also, the renunciation of self involves the renunciation of gender and sexuality as well. The feminist reading of the film is only useful until before the final scene.

Toji Temple's five story pagoda originally dates from 826 and was then rebuilt in 1644. The 55m tall tower is the largest in Japan. The interior of the pagoda is opened for a short period over New Year and has Esoteric Buddhist (Mikkyo) illustrations within...


http://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-templ ... oji-temple" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#74 Post by Kat » Thu Nov 24, 2016 3:31 pm

Emilio wrote:During those last moments of this film, one can hear prominently the four universal vows. Which are indeed a departure point for Buddhist practice of the Bodhisattva. The placement suggests, in my opinion, two readings:

1. Oharu remembers her vows she made at the outset and reconfirms the path she has embarked upon. In that sense, I take the ending not so much as a 'drifting towards Nirvana' but rather as a new beginning. And at least an escape from the suffering, and thus the narrative of the film, she has endured so far. 'Drifting towards Nirvana' does not accurately describe the implied actions in the vows. Perhaps it does describe the camera work of this film. Which lines up with the second point;
2. A more universal point of view which declares a 'proper' perspective on life, which Oharu has at last embraced.

I wonder whether these vows were also heard (not translated as here at the climax) during the opening credits?

I have wondered something similar to point 1. That would be nice. Not sure what you mean about the camera work though.

As to point two, that would be nice. I suppose I'm suggesting that is ambiguous.

Salamanca - thanks for your efforts to educate me. I'm not sure it's as necessary as you think. I am interested if the wooden statues are not in that Pagoda...but then also wonder how much that matters if they are in real life, if it is possibly implied they are in the same place, as there seems a connection made in the film, to me, as they are both references to religion.

It's interesting you'd admit a feminist reading up to a certain point - I suspect that is often the case with feminist readings of many things to some.

I'm not sure I'd simply read the transposition of an earthly face onto that of these saints in just one way. Of course such saints were once earthly faces too. Perhaps it is exactly earthly faces that aspire towards enlightenment and make of that what they will.

I stand by the possibility of the reading I suggested -- but I recognise this is not a final or definite one, it is a possibility, an ambiguity that I entertain at the moment. I have ordered a dvd so i can watch the film again and be on safer ground with it. I'm tempted to say more about that and the place allotted to her as a woman to drift, but think I've said enough for now.

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Re: 664 The Life of Oharu

#75 Post by Salamanca » Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:15 pm

Yes, of the opinion that using only a feminist reading renders the film one-dimensional and all the poorer, taking away the power of the final scene, and ignores the Buddhist qualities of many of Mizoguchi's movies. Both readings should work in harmony and give way to each other when necessary, like here. Already explained how renunciation is also a renunciation of gender, sexuality, self. In the end, she is no longer Oharu or a woman, and this is what liberates her from her suffering.

The point of pointing out that the pagoda in the final scene is To-ji is that the Japanese and Buddhist audience of this film would recognize the final image given the historical, cultural, and spiritual importance of To-ji. The altar and the pagoda aren't merely vague "indications" of religion for the non-religious, or references. They are specific Buddhist images and they were used in the film in specific scenes for good reason. Contextualize it: would the Lourdes grotto and St. Peter's Basilica be confused with each other as some sort of nebulous, all-in-one reference to Catholicism?

As for her bowing in front of To-ji:

In western culture, bowing is understood as an act of submission to authority or even of self-abasement. Especially where egalitarianism is highly valued nobody bows, even to heads of state, because it is considered demeaning. Westerners who may want to take part in Buddhist rituals and ceremonies often are uncomfortable with bowing...

In Buddhism, bowing is a physical expression of the Buddha's teaching. It is a dropping away of the ego and whatever we are clinging to. However, it is not an act of self-abasement but rather an acknowledgment that self-and-other are not really two separate things.

When bowing to an image of the Buddha or another iconic figure, one is not bowing to a god. The figure may represent the teachings, or enlightenment. It may represent the Buddha nature that is our original self. In that sense, when you bow to a Buddha figure you are bowing to yourself.


http://buddhism.about.com/od/takingrefu ... actice.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In Buddhism, the traditional gesture of reverence to the Triple Gem is to place the palms of both hands together and raise them high in front, usually up to the level of the forehead. In order to express deep veneration, a Buddhist may bow or prostrate before the image of the Buddha, members of the Sangha and the masters of the Teaching. When a Buddhist prostrates before an image, he acknowledges the fact that the Buddha has attained the perfect and supreme Enlightenment. Such an act helps the Buddhist to overcome egoistic feelings and he becomes more ready to listen to the Teaching of the Buddha.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/b_faqs.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Buddhists commonly offer bows when entering or leaving a temple, shrine, pilgrimage place, or spiritual circle of any kind.

http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/buddhis ... ithin.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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