Following its cultural trend of normalizing and accepting death, Japan is the first to come up with a virtual graves concept

Following its cultural trend of normalizing and accepting death, Japan is the first to come up with a virtual graves concept. Shukatsu, or “preparing for the end,” has recently become a significant business venture, with many interested in services that help them plan their own funerals in cost effective ways, and even try coffins.

The virtual graves are being offered by grave retailer Ryoshin Sekizai, and function in smartphones through augmented reality — users can experience a loved one's grave at their chosen location, with the added elements of pictures, and even pre-recorded videos and voice messages. Sekizai offers the first year of virtual service for free, if it's purchased while the person in question is still alive. The usual rate is 500Y or about $5.00 a month.

The actual remains of the deceased are cremated and stored by Sekizai. The virtual grave offers a solution to an increasing problem, lack of space for grave sites in Japanese cities. Mass urn storages already exist, where people can access their loved one's who've passed on by using a QR code or RIFD card.

But, it's also an efficient method to allow people to pay their respects, without having to make long trips to remote rural areas or towns in Japan. With the virutal grave, users can make a connection with those who have passed on with a touch of their fingertips. It's not much different than everything else that social media has made a part of everyday life. Technology has allowed people to establish relationships and engage with one another in remote ways, and Japan has just added another aspect of life — death — to the virtual mix.

Spot Message

Following its cultural trend of normalizing and accepting death, Japan is the first to come up with a virtual graves concept. Shukatsu, or “preparing for the end,” has recently become a significant business venture, with many interested in services that help them plan their own funerals in cost effective ways, and even try coffins.

The virtual graves are being offered by grave retailer Ryoshin Sekizai, and function in smartphones through augmented reality — users can experience a loved one's grave at their chosen location, with the added elements of pictures, and even pre-recorded videos and voice messages. Sekizai offers the first year of virtual service for free, if it's purchased while the person in question is still alive. The usual rate is 500Y or about $5.00 a month.