Funeral services have traditionally been elaborate, expensive affairs, but changes are underway.
The extreme expense of traditional funeral services in Japan, combined with a shortage of crematoriums, has many Japanese families turning to corpse hotels, according to The New York Times in “Crematory Is Booked? Japan Offers Corpse Hotels.”
In the traditional ceremonies, the body of the deceased is taken home and everyone in the neighborhood is invited to view it. The next day, the body is cremated and the ashes are taken home for another 49 days, after which they are buried in a local cemetery.
But now an option has come with corpse hotels that are just like any other hotel where people can stay overnight in a traditional hotel room that has the usual amenities.
Across the hall from the living guests are rooms that house the bodies of their deceased family members, while they await an open crematory. Japanese people are less likely to know their neighbors than they once did. Consequently, they do not see the need to hold an elaborate funeral for the entire neighborhood.
There is also a cost saving. Corpse hotels can cost a tenth of what holding a traditional funeral would.
While corpse hotels have not been reported in the U.S., it is not unusual for the elderly to decide on being buried in unusual, non-traditional methods.