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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cemeteries in Japan

The other day Mike and I went to Lone Tree Cemetery in Hayward, which I will write about in a upcoming post.  We weren't actually going to Hayward for the cemetery (yes, I do have a life outside of genealogy!), but rather to the Japanese gardens there.  We had a beautiful stroll, followed by a not-so-beautiful lunch in a restaurant downtown.  As my mind tried to escape the meal, I thought that perhaps it would be nice to write a bit about cemeteries in Japan.

It should be mentioned that though cremation is not mandatory in Japan, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cemetery that allows for burial.  This is not so much for religious reasons as for making room for the living.  There is not a whole lot of wide-open ranges in the country, which explains why the typical cemetery in Japan looks like this:

What is all of that?!?

In brief:

There generally are not individual graves in cemeteries, but family plots.  Like here, you will find engraved on the stone the names of the deceased.  In Japan, it is not uncommon to have a family crest, which too will be engraved on the stone.  Some have their family tree engraved on the stone.  I wish we'd do that here!

If you see your name in red on a gravestone, fear not, for this means that you are alive.  If your name is written in black, you may have something to worry about...

There is a place in front of the stone to offer flowers, incense and water...or a nice shot of shochu if the deceased was especially liked.   \(^ ^)/

Below each stone is a locked area for ashes.  The ashes of famous people are sometimes stolen.  Try not to be famous. 

Dying is expensive in Japan.  A grave site will set you back $20,000 to $40,000, which does not include the cost of the funeral.  Try not to die.  If that is not an option, having a high tech burial will save you about 80%.  For more info, watch the Reuters segment on card-activated crypts or the video below (which I highly recommend):

Sorry, but the weird voice of the lady's
deceased father is not included.