We have the words “ghost,” “spirit,” and “soul” which are similar but
slightly different when we use them or think about them. Soul is used
when discussing life after death in Christianity: your soul goes to heaven
or hell. You might become a ghost after you die, but not before, if your
soul decides to hang around on earth for a while. Spirit can refer to a
ghost or a soul or just a lot of life energy: that girl has spirit.
I was explaining to my daughter that Americans use the jack-o’-lantern to keep the
ghosts out of the house on Halloween, but when I asked her why the Japanese invite
the ghosts in for Obon, my wife who was listening became very upset and said they are
not ghosts. She said they were relatives - but not living; do Japanese have a word
which means something different from ghost, spirit, or soul?