Diversified Burial Options: Yearning for Sea Burial by Ash Scattering…
Diversified Burial Options (Continuation from the article about graves)
“When I die, scatter my ashes at sea!” I’ve been thinking long and hard about how we could fulfill this yearning.
If you go down this rabbit hole, you will eventually reach Yujiro Ishihara. It appears that the TV news coverage of Yujiro scattering bone ash at sea has had a long-lasting impact on the populace.
However, it isn’t so simple in reality.
First of all, most people pass away in the hospital (death certificate)
Collaborating funeral service providers move the remains to the funeral hall (crematorium) (cremation permit)
The family of the deceased collect the bones of the deceased (major parts are put into urns)
Funeral (Burial Certificate)
Forty-nine days later, the bones are laid to rest at the temple (Graveyards and Burials Act)←Can only be buried at areas approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare
…That’s how it goes. Throughout this process, there is totally no room for the act of scattering their ashes at sea.
In reality, while the Japanese people are essentially atheists, we are all forced to take part in the “Danka (support of Buddhist temples) System” set by the law to protect the temples established in the Edo era after we pass. For some reason, this system managed to survive to the 21st century despite modernization.
Firstly, when the person who is supposed to be the contracting party pass away, that responsibility automatically passes on to the person’s descendant(s). And they automatically enter into a semi-permanent subscription contract with the temple. The subscription period is for eternity and covers their children’s children, and so on. If one of them neglects memorial services and grave maintenance in the future, the deceased either becomes a neglected spirit or the grandchildren who realizes this would pick up the outstanding bills.
This is the topic that sparked a lot of interest in my previous blog. (Refer to URL below)
So, I think our options need to be expanded to get rid of such uncertainties after we die. Of course, we can just follow the current system, but we should also be able to choose to have “no grave”. In other words, diversified burial options!
To do this, decisions at the crematorium are key. After picking up the bones, use some for the memorial and keep a small amount which you can pulverize into ash and keep for scattering at sea. While there are no laws mandating that the remains (bones) of the deceased be laid to rest, there is the belief that keeping it at hand forever will prevent them from “going to heaven/nirvana”, so scatter the ashes at sea after 49 days have passed.
However, please note that you cannot simply scatter the ashes of the deceased anywhere, as it may be forbidden to do so according to the laws of your local jurisdiction. Disposing of or burying the bones of the deceased in places other than graveyards is forbidden by law. (Penal Code Article 190)
However, the Ministry of Justice has expressed their opinion on scattering bone ash, saying, “as long as it is part of a funeral ritual and done responsibly, it is not considered as abandoning of a corpse”, so it is recognized as a viable burial method.
Thus, it is possible to request for “Eitai Kuyo (perpetual Buddhist service for the repose of a departed soul)” and scatter the bone ash where the local jurisdiction allows.
I want this option to be available. I think this will allow us to go to heaven without burdening our descendants.
In the end, we dismantled my grandfather’s tomb in Saga prefecture but retained his tomb that was established by burying parts of his bones separately at Zojoji Temple in Shiba, Minato Ward, Tokyo. Originally, my grandfather’s children (children who have become senior citizens) are supposed to decide whether to succeed or dismantle it, but I, as his grandchild, decided to take over the responsibility as it is in Minato Ward, where I live.
Considering the high cost of dismantling the tomb, I thought it wiser to bear the maintenance cost and postpone the issue.
However, to avoid passing on the trouble to my children and grandchildren as the contracting party, I plan to pay for my own funeral expenses, the memorial service fees up to my third death anniversary, and tomb dismantling before I die, and end this practice during my generation.
◆Article that went viral↓
Funerals and Burials Eitai Kuyo for the 21st Century