Image via YouTube video screengrab
Green (or not so green) burial rituals routinely catch our eye, one of the reasons being the carbon footprint of coffins being built just to go into the ground or the amount of lawn that has to be manicured. Japan has come up with a novel, high-tech and space-saving solution that reuses warehouse building space as a place to mourn the dead.
According to the BBC, all over Japan, but especially in big cities, places to bury the dead are growing slim. The solution to save space - and money - is to convert old warehouses into storage facilities for the ashes of family members. The majority of Japanese are cremated, so the solution makes perfect sense.
"The cost will be half or a third of a normal graveyard in Tokyo, because we can store many remains compared to a normal graveyard so we can offer a reasonable price," says Buddhist monk Ryutoku Ohora. "You can put ashes for two people in one box," said the monk. "So 7,000 people maximum in this space, [when] for a normal graveyard you would get 100 graves in this area [of land]."
The ashes are stored on shelves, and family members swipe a card in a card reader, activating a robotic arm that retrieves the correct urn and places it in a mourning area. The mourning area comes complete with a computer screen that shows images of the deceased person, along with a setting of flowers, a water fountain, and soft music.
Think of it like retrieving a book from the stacks in a library. Or, as CNET points out, the way a jukebox switches records.
Apparently the idea is growing on people. Toshio Ishii, an 82-year-old shopping for a grave site states, "And I think it will be nice to be stored with other people. It's more fun, there'll be company."
The fact that it's such a space saver, and converts old buildings for new uses rather than occupying more ground, is a green plus.