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Japan’s futuristic resting place for departed

By: Floro Mercene

The Koukokuji Buddhist Temple in downtown Tokyo has 400 years history, but its “Ruriden columbarium” offers a high-tech futuristic resting place for departed.

The Ruriden is home to 2, 046 small altars, with glass Buddha statues that correspond to drawers like lockers storing the ashes of the deceased. If you choose one Buddha statue for yourself for your final resting place, you are flanked on all sides by a collection of 2,045 LED-lit statues of variant hues, spread across the walls of this alternative graveyard space.

Your cremated remains will be housed in a storage locker located directly behind the wall. Synced up to swipe cards, the statues glow a different color when a visitor arrives so they can be located easily.

People can visit their beloved ones with the help of a smart card which grants access to the building at any time of the day, 24 hours.

Traditionally, each family would own a plot of land and a stone tomb, together cost between $20,000 and $40, 000 in a cemetery in an urban area. Declining birth rates, increasing single households, shortages of space in cities, and skyrocketing prices for cemetery plots have made high-tech graveyards a cost effective alternative. For many elderly without children, this removes the worry about maintenance of their niche, or passing it on to the next generation.

A one-person-sized box costs around $6,600. If you store the remains of two in there, the price goes up to $8,300. A yearly maintenance fee of $80 is required and your remains are guaranteed a place inside Ruriden for 33 years before being buried below the Ruriden.

The Ruriden was constructed in 2006 and it was the first of its kind in Japan.