Friday, October 16, 2009

A hi-tech grave?

Japan is a hi-tech country. You can get almost any gadget. Everywhere you go you see the stamp of technology. Japan is also a land where people take death and the after-life seriously. Funerals are elaborate affairs. There are important rituals to be observed at the grave. But the cost of both a funeral and a plot for the grave is phenomenal. And land is scarce. So how do you bring together the world of hi-tech and the world of the dead? You build a hi-tech 'graveyard' in a purpose-built multi-storey facility where the relatives can go and visit the altar where their loved ones' ashes are buried. You go in, swipe your ID card and the deceased's ashes (previously placed in an urn) are fetched by some automated system and brought to where you are. Photos of the deceased relative flash up on the screen. And people can pay their respects in the comfort of a special room set aside for that purpose. There are even adverts on TV for these facilities. They are becoming increasingly popular as they save space and lots of money. Even death is not immune to the advance of technology.

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