Preparing for death becomes more common in aging Japan

Sep 20, 2016, 08:00 am

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An official performs his skills in encoffinment at the annual "Shukatsu Festa 2016" funeral business fair in Tokyo on September 11./ Photographed by Um Soo-ah

By Um Soo-ah, Tokyo correspondent, AsiaToday - "Kazokuni meiwaku kaketakunaindesu!" (I don't want to give my family inconvenience!")

With Japan becoming a super-aging society, Japanese people seem to be worried that even their death would cause trouble to their family. Various events in the name of "Shukatsu" festival are being held nationwide. Shukatsu in Japanese means "preparing for one's end."

Such phrase was written on the walls at the entrance to a funeral expo held at Industrial Plaza PIO in Tokyo on September 11. More than 100 people, who attended the event, seemed to be agreeing with the phrase.

The theme of the event was "death", but the atmosphere was surprisingly bright and cheerful, with two cat illustrated characters welcoming the visitors at the entrance. In fact, visitors weren't shy about preparing for their death.

During the two-day festival, people were able to sample their own funeral and get a taste of their last goodbye. For instance, they could lay down in coffins, learn what to do with their belongings, and write down ending notes, including after-death messages and instructions to families and friends.


An impressive poster urging people to color their nails perfectly after death./ Photographed by Um Soo-ah

At the event, vendors displayed their products for trial as well as plenty of hair and makeup options. A nail art booth urged visitors to color their nails perfectly after death, considering the fact that their upper bodies would be mainly shown to their families after death.

Since most Japanese funeral services are held in a Buddhist style, a lecture entitled, "Buddha's smile", was held by a monk on the first day of the fair. Then other lectures on psychological preparation and things to prepare before death followed.

On the second day, there were booths explaining visitors what to do with their belongings, such as jewels, bags, or clothing, demonstrating encoffining process, and describing how to write down ending notes.

Senior visitors watched the whole process seriously. Not only elderly people visited the expo, but also families with young children.

According to Kyodo News, Japan has now more than 65,000 people who've lived 100 years or more, breaking its own record for most centenarians by population for the 46th straight year. A data from the country's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare reveals that roughly 25% of the total population are over 65.

#funeral #Shukatsu #aging #Japan #festival 
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