Some say they’re just being practical while some say it reeks of commercialism. Several Buddhist temples in Japan have begun accepting cremated remains for burial for a fee, as they believe the service is needed for those who cannot make it in person to hand over the ashes for one reason or another.
The Nyubutsuji temple in Iyo, Ehime Prefecture has been doing this since 2011 despite no official approval from the city. For only 55,000 yen (around $520), they can accept the ashes through mail, provided they also come with the necessary permit to have the remains buried. The one-time fee covers storage at the charnel house of the temple for 50 years. After that period expires, the ashes will be put in a joint grave. Kosho Yamada, the head priest at the temple, says that several people have already used that service, mostly women who are stuck with taking care of the remains of their divorced husbands. They publicize the specialized service through the Internet and so far, they have received 500 requests already.
The temple is currently involved in a lawsuit against the Iyo city office because they were refused a permit to officially establish the charnel house on the grounds that the service they provide does not match the religious sentiments of the public. They are arguing that their service offers help for people who have no other option. While the district court agreed that it is something the public needs because of the declining birth rate, they say that it looks like a commercial service due to the emphasis on the low cost. They are currently appealing the court’s decision.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]