Modern End-of-Life Services in Japan

Japan expects its population to shrink by nearly 30 million people over the next 50 years, with a thriving market for funerals, graves and anything related to the afterlife. Funeral business fairs and "End of life" seminars are becoming popular events, with both traditional and high-tech services and products being offered. At the seminars, people can climb into a coffin for a personal test, have their funeral portrait taken after a beauty session, shop for shrouds from a company called "Final Couture", or buy a plot in a modern indoor multi-story cemetery that robotically retrieves tombstones for mourners, based on the swipe of an identity card. [18 photos total]

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1
Noriaki Iwashima looks out of a coffin during an end-of-life seminar held by Japan's largest retailer Aeon Co in Tokyo on October 24, 2014. Funeral arrangements are normally left to those who have been left behind but the latest trend in Japan, which literally translates to "End of life" preparations, is for the aging to prepare their own funerals and graves before they set off on their journey to the great beyond. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
2
Junkoh Nagakura prays at the "Ruriden", a cemetery that uses high-powered LED lights to illuminate over 2,000 Buddha statues carved in crystals, in downtown Tokyo on October 27, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
3
The "Ruriden", a cemetery that uses LED lights to illuminate thousands of Buddha statues, in downtown Tokyo on November 4, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
4
Yukiko Kimura (right) walks with her sister-in-law Kiyoko Matsuura (center) and Kiyoko's husband Yoshiharu Matwsuura after they prayed for Yukiko's late husband Mitsugi at the Ryogoku Ryoen, a multi-story vault-style graveyard, in downtown Tokyo on October 27, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
5
A staff member demonstrates how to use a modern tomb that robotically retrieves the correct tombstone or urn based on which identity card is provided, at Ryogoku Ryoen, a vault-style graveyard, in Tokyo on October 27, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
6
Men pray in front of a modern tomb that was robotically retrieved at the Ryogoku Ryoen graveyard in Tokyo on October 27, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
7
Yukiko Kimura (right) prays for her late husband Mitsugi with Mitsugi's sister Kiyoko Matsuura in front of a modern tomb in Ryogoku Ryoen, a multi-story vault-style graveyard in Tokyo, on October 27, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
8
Buddha statues carved in crystal in the "Ruriden" cemetery in Tokyo on October 27, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
9
Natsumi Niki stands in a coffin before lying down in it to test it during an end-of-life seminar held by Japan's largest retailer Aeon Co in Tokyo on October 24, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
10
A staff member covers Natsumi Niki with a quilt as she lies in a coffin to test it during an end-of-life seminar in Tokyo on October 24, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
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A staff member places the lid on a coffin with Natsumi Niki inside during an end-of-life seminar in Tokyo on October 24, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
12
Natsumi Niki smiles inside a coffin while testing it during an end-of-life seminar in Tokyo on October 24, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
13
A woman has her hair styled before sitting for a photograph that will be used for her deceased portrait, at the annual "Shukatsu Festa 2014" funeral business fair in Tokyo on August 24, 2014. Some 50 funeral and aging business companies including religious bodies exhibited their latest products and services at the one day event which was expected to attract 5,000 visitors. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images) #
14
A woman smiles as she is shown her photographic portrait which will be used at her funeral during an end-of-life seminar in Tokyo on October 24, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
15
Kazuo Furumoto reacts as he is shown his portrait that will be displayed at his funeral during an end-of-life seminar in Tokyo on October 24, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
16
A woman displays a dress for the "last journey" after death, made by shroud maker "Final Couture" at the annual "Shukatsu Festa 2014" funeral business fair in Tokyo on August 24, 2014. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images) #
17
Buddha statues carved in crystals at the Ruriden cemetery in Tokyo on October 27, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
18
A woman prays at the Ruriden cemetery, in front of thousands of illuminated Buddha statues in downtown Tokyo on October 27, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #

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