Now in Japan: Drive-Thru Funerals
Aging population is impetus behind move
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2017 1:45 PM CDT
Japan's Princess Yuriko, on a wheelchair, the wife of late Prince Mikasa, leaves after praying at the altar during a funeral service for Prince Mikasa at Toshimagaoka Cemetery in Tokyo Friday, Nov. 4,...   (Toru Hanai/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – For those in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues, funerals can be tricky to navigate. And in Japan, where 1.43 million people are expected to die annually by 2020, the need for a solution is pressing, reports the Japan Times. Enter Kankon Sousai Aichi Group, based in central Nagano Prefecture. It plans to open a drive-thru service in December, allowing funeral attendees to pull up to a window, sign their name on a tablet, hand over condolence cash customary in Japan, and use an electronic incense-burning device. It's expected to cut attendance time by 25%.

In Nagano Prefecture in particular, one in three people are now over the age of 65. "I've been in this business for a while and have seen how burdensome attending funerals can be for old folks in wheelchairs," the company head says. "Those who would otherwise stay home [can] go out and bid farewell to friends and family." The New York Post notes that the idea sounds similar to drive-thru services offered at funeral homes in California, Arkansas, Michigan, and the cities of Chicago and Memphis. (Japan is now asking its over-worked population to take Friday afternoons to chill.)

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