Japan’s Changing Funeral Practices in the Rapidly Aging Country

High tech, IT and robots are at forefront in Japan’s funeral changes

Funerals are also pricey, costing about ¥2 million on average [$17,500]. Burial plots can be expensive as well, especially in crowded cities like Tokyo.

That has led a growing number of secular-minded Japanese to look for cheaper and simpler options.

Nissei Eco … dressed Pepper in a Buddhist priest’s robe and programmed the robot to recite sutras. The firm, which has also been in the funeral business since 2000, said it plans to charge around ¥50,000 [$450] for Pepper’s services. The company also plans to offer live-streaming of funerals for mourners who are not physically able to bid farewell in person.

Unlike monotheistic traditions, religious views in Japan are a unique blend of Buddhist and Shinto rituals with influence from other religions, such as Christianity. This ethic is encapsulated in the saying: born Shinto, live nonreligious, wed Christian and die Buddhist.

This relatively flexible and pragmatic approach to faith is apparent in the rising popularity of nontraditional funeral rites including scattering cremains at sea or creating cremation diamonds made from ashes of the deceased.

Many cultures have been slow to evolve funeral practices to the modern world. There seem to be numerous ways to do this that will bring benefits while retaining the value of practices that remain worthwhile.

One practice that we would all benefit from is more care to the feelings and personal finances of the survivors instead of having the funeral industry pressure people at a very stressful time. Some changes won’t appeal to some people, and that is fine, we should be able to chose among desireable options.

Related: Las Vegas Entrepreneur Takes on Overpriced Burial CasketsShopping for Funeral Services

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