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In Japan, grave times for the tombstone trade

16 Comments
By Yiyuan Wang

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Not a moment too soon. These masive graveyards (not just in Japan but in most countries) full of concrete and stone are little more than cancerous eyesores on the environment, a horrible use of resources and an unnecessary burden on future generations.

Burial at sea or under a tree sounds way more appealing to me.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Having taken walks among the fall burial sites of Japan I have found that more and more grave sites go unattended yearly. Even the newer graves I have found to be neglected by the living relatives.

I have cleaned what I could, offered prayers to all yet feel ashamed of those living that now ignore those that raised them.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

There's actual no requirement to have a family grave. our family grave at the foot of Mount Fuji is very simple with no big stones, just small indicators who the grave belongs to. Open grass field otherwise instead of the usual graveyard.

We put my brother-in-law in there last year, alongside both of his parents.

The remains of family are used in urns which could be kept at home, in gardens or even the garage and gotten out for memorial days. You could even make a digital grave online or DVD's about the life of the person. The bones could be ground up and made into jewellery. Or planted with a tree, we did that one with my father who was a cabinet maker so we planted his ashes with a cherry tree.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

While it costs a fortune to buy a plot, stone, have it carved, and moved to one place and then another in the future if the family moves, I find a number of people these days saying they just want to be cremated and their ashes spread in the sea or somewhere of significance instead more out an attempt to avoid causing relatives the hassles involved with being interred, etc. Some of the customs involving ceremonies in cemetaries, and the beauty of the places themselves are very calming and moving, and it's sad too see a lot of those traditions fade. In this day and age, though, there are many seeking the more practical. In my case, put me in the cheapest box you can find and cremate, then dump the ashes somewhere. I can probably think of a couple of places where I'd prefer more than just anywhere, but really, I think that if someone is going to remember me or pray for me or what have you, they can do so easily from anywhere, and need not have any ceremony for it. This is another business that is going to have to seriously adapt to the times or will disappear completely.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Is there some sort of law about who can dispose of ashes?

Yes, but a Japanese friend's father died last year and wanted to have his ashes tossed into the ocean so my friend got a cardboard box, put his father's ashes in it, got on a ferry to Shikoku, stood at the stern of the ferry, and opened the bottom of the box. Tada! Dad's in the ocean. My friend and family said a few silent prayers without the hand clapping and bowing (so as not to attract attention), then went on their merry way. Total cost: ferry tickets for three people plus a nice lunch. Significantly less than 200,000 yen.

Personally, I've requested my earthly remains be donated to a medical school and, when they're finished with them, plant a tree on me. (Not a cherry tree, though. Waaaay too many of those. Pine would be nice.)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is all down to a couple things, declining population, costs, & mobility, etc

People no longer live near where they are raised, in fact they are likely to move around while being raised so the concept of "home" also is changing.

Those with family graves have to sacrifice holidays & go to rather large amounts of ca$h to maintain..........its becoming simply too much work, too costly & also fewer & fewer that will need to be buried as family size continues to shrink.

So while some aspects of the death business will see growth others will/are seeing & will see more decline, pretty obvious by now that the old family style graves will be dying out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes, there are laws and limits as to how and when ashes can be disposed off. You can't just do anywhere and anyhow.

The boat-trip also have a ceremony, etc on board.

You can keep urns at home of course, many do.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Leave me where I drop, if It's not going to be health hazard, let my minerals. elements and compounds go back into the cycles. Full stop.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Forgot to add. Urns in Japan usually hold the bones and not ashes and thus are quiet larger.

To have your ashes spread requires a second step where the bones are ground down after cremation(done in the west).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is there some sort of law about who can dispose of ashes? Otherwise, why would you have to pay someone to put them under a tree or scatter them in the ocean? Can you legally keep an urn in your home?

I can't imagine why anyone would pay 200,000 for something a family member or friend could promise to do for free.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese people are getting smarter. They are realizing that the tombstone trade and funeral trade are a huge rip-off. Good riddance to these rip-off merchants who take advantage of ordinary people!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“With a gravestone, children can understand what kind of man their father was in his lifetime,”

I think children can better understand what kind of man their father was by talking with people who knew him.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Taking up the slack are the likes of Tsuyoshi Saito, who 10 years ago founded Wataru, meaning “to cross over”, which offers services to scatter ashes at sea for about $2,000.

... what an amazing rip-off. 200 000 yen to take a boat out, say a few words and then head home. Maximum an hour or two of work.

I mean this is just blatant profiteering off people who are grief-stricken and not able to make sound decisions. Taking advantage of people like this when they're out of their minds with grief should be against the law.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

what an amazing rip-off. 200 000 yen to take a boat out, say a few words and then head home. Maximum an hour or two of work.

Lets say a 35 foot motor boat......

Boat Captian salary, 5000 yen hour. Crew member / deck hand at 1500 yen hour Boat mooring fees: 2000 yen per foot per day, or 720,000 year. Fuel for two hours using 190 liters per hour at 130 yen/liter is 24,700 yen Annual inspection fees 80000 yen Commercial boat Insurance at a cost of 12000 yen per million yen of insured property. Hint a 35 foot boat suitable for carrying passengers will cost upwards of 20 million yen. Boat maintenance costs... priceless

Now is that 200000 yen funereal still sounding outrageous?

.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A simple shrine, urn or something else at home or donation for a tree planted with the ashes in a park or a bench installed with a small plaque and message is far better. It has a use. Cemeteries are just plain UGLY, and a HUGE waste of space that only serve to line the pockets of a businesses. Plus, I'm sure that they lower the property value around them and creep out a lot of people.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Wow! The tombstone business in Japan is dominated by Chinese craftsmen, and round 80% of tombstones hail from China???

I am going to have so much fun next week informing my virilently anti-Chinese students and friends of these facts!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

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