I’m translating the article from the Japanese newspaper about the funeral into English. I hope my translation makes sense and you could know the recent style of Japanese funeral. Even for me, it’s a new style!
FYI: Normally, the Japanese traditional funeral is composed of two ceremonies, and they are taken place over two days.
the First day: we call it o-Tsuya. It represents the last night that the relatives can spend with the departed saint.( I use this word ‘departed’ but I feel he/she is not departed yet at this moment. they are going to depart. Is it different from your culture? anyway,) They spend all night eating and drinking besides the body. Technically, the body is laid in the room next to the dining space. Attendances are supposed to be served some foods and drinks, but except for the relatives and the most closest friends, you should leave soon after you gave your condolences.
*the Second day: o-Soushiki or Kokubetsu-shiki It is the main ritual. After it finishes, the coffin is carried to the crematory. Until it’s done, they feast again mournfully, but sometimes if the departed person had lived long happily and died naturally for example because of old age, the feast might be a little bit in relaxed atmosphere. Then the relatives go back to the crematory to pick up ‘the ashes/o-kotsu’ and put them into the special pottery called ‘kotsutsubo‘ . They bring it back home and keep it until the day for burying it under the tomb.
To hold these two ceremonies impose the family a big pressure and also they need big money, too. So, recently the simpler style of funeral called ‘chokuso’ has become popular especially in urban in Japan. The following article is about this new trend of the Japanese funerals.
from YOMIURI:読売新聞 on 22nd April
” I’ve held some funerals for both my parents and my husband’s parents, and I want no more…” said the women lives in Tokyo. “If I’d consider the happiest funeral for me, I’d like to be mourned in the chokuso/直葬 style. It seems adequate for me and I suppose I would be satisfied with.” She had to spend a huge sum of money for her husband’s mother and when the time of her own mother, she had a lot of troubles to make courtesy visits to appreciate for many of the attendances after the funeral. In case of her husband’s fathers funeral, the number of attendances were 800 but alomost of them were person related with his business. This women lives with her husband and has no children. She can afford to hold a decent funeral for herself, but she wants to donate the money to the social contribution rather than to spent it for a funeral. After she conceived her husband and her brothers what she wants, she decided to make the pre-death contract with the funeral home that her body would be mourned in the chokuso style and her ashes would be buried under a cherry tree. The woman told “The matter is which part of your life is the most valuable. I believe there are quite a few people think the same as me.”
‘chokuso/直葬’ means that they take the body from hospital or home to the crematory directly, and neither o-tsuya nor o-soushiki is held. They will be charged for a coffin, a hearse and labor cost but it would be quite cheaper than a normal style. Chokuso has long been held for the person who didn’t have any relatives. However, in this 3 or 4 years, it has been supposed to be as one option among a few styles of Japanese funerals. The number of people who wants chokuso is increasing whether or not they have families and money. Now, the rate of chokuso has been 20 to 30 percent in urban district.
One agency in Kanagawa launched the special plan of chokuso in this February. The price is around one hundred 70 thousands yen. The another plan that is included the light meals, photographs and flowers costs about two hundreds and 80 thousands yen. This plan has been started 7 years ago, and the number of the users are increasing. 40 percents of his customers choose the chokuso now. The agent executive said “It doesn’t mean people neglect to mourn wholeheartedly, but it shows that the sense of value of people are diversifying.”
Nevertheless, there’s certainly someone who can’t make themselves in order for the departure with their family of friend only in such a short time funeral. “We should not forget the meanings of the rituals.” said the executive, “because they can fully understand the death of the departed soul and get reassuring feelings through the rituals .”