In a departure from traditional Japanese rites for the death of monarchy, Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have chosen to be cremated rather than buried when they pass away, this revealed by Imperial Household Agency chief Noriyuki Kazaoka said Thursday. This is a historic change, as before them, the Imperial family has 350 years of history of ritual burials which were the norm for monarchs and their spouses from the early Edo Period (1603 – 1867).
The agency have also made known that their plans for the Imperial couple’s mausoleums will be smaller than those of the previous emperors and empresses. The agency had also been considering changing the funeral rites since April last year, after the Emperor and Empress had expressed their wish to be cremated. There also was a suggestion to place the ashes of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in the same mausoleum following cremation, but it seems that the Empress had humbly declined that, according to information from the agency. Their mausoleums are now to be built side by side in an integrated fashion on the west side of that of Emperor Taisho in the Musashiryo Imperial Cemetery in Hachioji, western Tokyo.
When the Japanese Emperor or Empress dies, it is customary for a ceremony to be held at a temporary Imperial mortuary to be built at the Imperial Palace in a traditional manner. The obvious change in the ritual is now that before cremation, a relatively small-scale funeral rite will be held. The Imperial Household Agency will consider where to hold a ceremony corresponding to a funeral for common people, as the Emperor and Empress are calling for consideration of the impact on the public and the environment.
[via Jiji Press]