The Japanese are very particular when it comes to rituals and following age-old traditions. Paying attention to even seasonal occurrences, making them into family holidays, like the cherry blossoms or the fireflys in summer, they are also well known for paying attention to their ancestors. Birth and death are big celebrations, like the way it is in India.
Thus it comes as a surprise to know that Japan has introduced something like a drive-thru funeral services. Here, mourners can stop their cars next to a window which has a receptionist. They will put in their information on a device and hand over their condolence offerings and incense. All this, without getting out of the car. And if one can take some effort, he/she can get out of the vehicle and see happenings on a screen.
This is something which would not be out-of-place in America, which has drive-thru meals and coffee-on-the-go but in a country like Japan, this almost sounds like a sacrilege.
Typically, the Japanese funeral begins with a night vigil and the funeral happens the next day with monks chanting. Then there is a ‘picnic with the dead’ after which the body is cremated and those present collect bone fragments with special chopsticks, which are then placed in an urn, buried in the family grave within 49 days of the funeral.
Is it that changing times are catching up with the Japanese? Or maybe it has more to with the aging population and lower birth rates where it is becoming increasingly difficult for the seniors to attend funerals.