In ancient China and Egypt, the influence of ancestors was very great. They were buried in expensive graves and in Egypt a permanent death cult was instituted. It was generally believed that the lack of veneration would cause the deceased to die a second death, which was for many people an almost unbearable thought.
In nearly every primitive tribal religions of Africa ancestor worship is common practice. The ancestors of the tribe are honored as spirits who preserve the moral standards of tribal life. They are also regarded as the intermediaries between the living and the divine powers. And the ancestor spirits play an important role in the initiation rites. Among some west-African peoples the belief is current that the ancestors reincarnate in their descendants.
In Japan, ancestors were worshipped until 1945. At that time, the Japanese Emperor disclaimed any form of divine ancestry and polytheistic ancestor worship was no longer permitted.