As is widely known, Japan has a graying population. As residents continue to age, this demographic is causing the undertaking industry and the culture as a whole to shift to some degree in order to accommodate their passing.

In Europe and the United States, the deceased are typically buried. In space-tight Japan, however, most families choose cremation. In fact, the rate of cremation is over 99 percent.

Nevertheless, saying goodbye is always difficult for family members and loved ones. Some mourners understandably want to make a final statement or give a last gift before their loved one moves on. In that case, consumers opt to include burial accessories, small goods often containing a written message, to be included in the cremation casket.

Common choices

According to Kazokuso Family Burial Co. Ltd, burial accessories are growing in popularity throughout the country. Several items are possible, but there are a number of common possessions chosen by family members:

A personal letter or message

Many mourners wish to include a letter written for the occasion or one from a past communication in the funeral. Sometimes, families choose to include a sort of signed message board or plaque that participants sign or write a message on.

The deceased’s kimono or favorite clothing item

Clothes and kimono are often included as burial accessories. Yet, mourners should avoid thick fabrics because they are difficult to burn.

Favorite food or drink

It is common for loved ones to think, "I want them to drink and eat what they like in heaven." As such, they often choose to include confections, snacks, paper carton-packed beverages, and the like. Naturally, canned beverages and plastic bottles cannot be included.

Important personal items

Mourners also understandably opt to include personal effects that the deceased cherished or for which they were otherwise known.

As you can imagine, the amount and kinds of burial accessories that can be included are limited. That said, the ritual helps provide a sense of closure while preparing a loved one for the next phase of the journey.

A cane for the great beyond

Cane specialty store Tsueya specializes in vinyl white and black canes. These canes are a bit unique. For example, on their staff are written short Buddhist prayers like "Namu Ami Dabutsu", “Praise the great Buddha," and other meaningful spiritual passages.

The cane is also colloquially named Heaven's Cane and is intended to be used as a burial accessory. Typical canes include several parts that do not burn properly. As such, Heaven’s Canes are made with maple wood, which burns easily, and does not include screws or other metal parts. The cane is composed of several wooden pieces that have either a white or glossy black finish. Finally, a parting message to the deceased can easily be written on the wooden shaft of the cane.

Tsueya also offers the Arigatou Cane, or a cane of gratitude. Mourning family members can remove the top of the cane and include a farewell letter in the hollow shaft. According to the store, many family members include this type of staff in the cremation casket as it is very popular. Sure enough, as the demographics of Japan shift, residents are finding new sentimental ways to say goodbye.

By - Luke Mahoney.

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