As we all know, planning for your final resting place can be a difficult decision. In Japan, the decision is made even harder by the country’s declining birth rate, lack of available space and prices that have shot to some of the highest levels in recent memory. But one idea has truly taken off and has helped people plan more effectively for the future.
The Koukoko-ji temple in downtown Tokyo, Japan offers a digital upgrade for people looking to have their cremated placed in a case, called a Ruriden, and on the front side is a glass-encased Buddha statue, where family and friends will visit to pay their respects. Each case has a smart card which allows family and friends access to the room and, then with a simple swipe on a smart device, light up the case a different color to show visitors where their family member is located.
Prior to this, individuals were buried in family stone tombs and could cost anywhere from 230,000 yen ($20,000) and 460,000 yen ($40,000), plus the maintenance and upkeep of the sight fell upon the family, approximately 12,000 yen ($105) a year.
With the Ruriden, the cost is 750,000 yen ($6,600) for one person and 950,000 yen ($8,300) for two people, with a yearly maintenance fee of 9,000 yen ($80). This guarantees the family member(s) their Ruriden for 33 years, after which the fees are waived and the remains are moved to a “communal resting place underneath the edifice. Buddhist statues and locker spaces are not re-used once emptied; instead they are kept vacant,” (High tech, Jozuka).
Due to the low birth rates in the country, these Ruriden are typically used by individuals who have no family to take care of a family tomb but to those who do purchase there, the idea of having other people around gives most a comfort that they are not alone.