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Many people these days opt for more personalized burials, such as scattering ashes in natural surroundings, as it becomes difficult to expect younger generations to continue tending to family tombs due to a shift toward the nuclear family.

8 Comments

Midori Kotani, representative director of the research institute for senior citizens’ life and culture. A record 151,076 family tombs were dismantled around Japan in fiscal 2022, with fewer people wanting to take care of plots properly.

© Asahi Shimbun

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Could always go back to nameless and even mass burials of bodies, as was tradition.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

I think it is the expense that people are rejecting. Buying a grave plot, then the stone and then paying yearly fees amounts to millions of yen. Then each and every obon and other times you must travel back to pay respect. An urn with the ashes in a nice place in your home would be much better I think.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I am not a fan of those burial plots (I have some obligations with respect to my wife’s family’s) and just want my own ashes scattered and forgotten about when I go.

Its not just about the burden of taking care of them, there is a big environmental cost to these things. These graveyards take up a massive amount of space, usually in densely populated areas. In my area there is an entire mountain whose forest as been eviscerated and replaced by a sprawling concrete graveyard that dominates the surrounding neighborhood. Its just brutally grey and depressing - like a parking lot for dead people - and makes the place where people actually live look and feel utterly miserable. Why anyone in their right mind would want to impose that in perpetuity on future generations after they die is beyond me.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

With the dropping birthrate and the movement of young people away from their birthplaces to the major cities there are no children to care for the graves so obviously graves are becoming considered an unnecessary expense.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My friend pays has paid tens of thousands of dollars to maintain and then move her family plot when the relative that used to take care of it died. The cost of moving it alone was millions of yen, and required a LOT of bureaucracy. She complained about it so much that she said she wants to just chuck it all in the river and let the ashes wash away, adding that when she goes she will have it dismantled -- she doesn't want to pass it on to her kids.

I agree with MarkX completely that it's the cost people are rejecting, not the work of actually taking care of a tomb and the plot its on (ie. the yearly cleaning).

I told my partner when I go, just cremate me in the cheapest box possible, put the ashes in a ziplock, and dump it somewhere nice, preferably in water, saving a little to send to family back home if they are still around, to pour the last of it into the lake by my old home. No funeral, no remains.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We have a family grave near Fuji which requires no money. Small admin charge when additional members are placed there. The plots are maintained. We need to take the urns of BIL and SIL to intern them there.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Looks like some don't know their traditions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We need to accept the fact that when we are dead, that is it. Our remains are no more meaningful than that of discarded chicken bones from a KFC family bucket. If it is about remembering our ancestors, then think of something more personal and simple, plant a tree. Every surviving family member can do it in their own community. Find other reasons to gather as a family other than to give respect to a meaningless pile of ashes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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