Instead of visiting the traditional outdoor cemetery plots, Tokyo residents can now visit their dead relatives inside of the Bansho-Ji Temple using electronic ID cards. (TechInsider.io)
Architect Kiyoshi Takeyama, designed this temple as an alternative to the traditional soil and casket burial which can be quite expensive. Unlike the cemetery plot, an urn with the individual’s remains are help inside the temple in a blue box which becomes illuminated with a golden hue when the corresponding ID card is scanned. This helps direct visitors to the correct urn.
Bansho-Ji Temple is one of only a few of its kind that have popped up throughout Japan in the last 10 years. Ruriden, a temple much like Bansho-Ji, is currently using a similar concept of housing the dead. It too using the ID cards to signify the appropriate urn to visitors.
Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of this burial method comes with an unsettling reality. Fertility rates in Japan are of the lowest in the world which is resulting in a declining population of young people, many of which are abstaining from sexual activity for a number of reasons. This is putting Japan’s older population under a great burden as they no longer have younger relatives to care for them in their old age.
As a result of the elderly having fewer family members to care for them, the commonality of being laid to rest in a family plot is rapidly diminishing making alternative burial options more practical as the difference in cost measures in the thousands.
Taijun Yajima, Ruriden’s head Buddhist priest says, “The people who usually register for a plot here are either single or don’t have children.” He went on to say that they are sad that they don’t have family with them but their belief is that they will be surrounded by others like them in Ruriden when they die and that brings them comfort.