Death is inevitable. And for many, it's also scary. In Japan, some are confronting death head on in a rather unusual way: climbing into coffins.
Earlier this spring, end of life counselor Atsushi Sakabe and coffin manufacturer WiLLiFE began an "Experience Being Placed in a Coffin" (入棺体験 or "nyuukan taiken") event. Nikkei reports that the instant this particular event was announced online, it filled the fixed number of slots with eager participants. WiLLiFE is also using these kinds of events to help with PR. Yes, coffin PR.
At this particular series of events, you also drink beer, eat snacks, and talk about death. Japanese funerals also involve large amounts of eating and drinking, so it seems not only fitting, but a good way to relax and open up.
In Japan, there's been an expression that if you lie in a coffin while you are alive, you'll live longer. And there have been similar events at funeral homes that allow the living to lie in a coffin. Personally, I don't know anyone here in Japan who has attended one of these, but according to online reports, they certainly do exist.
Many of those events seem to involve other people taking photos of the living individual in a coffin, which seems incredibly morbid, but whatever.
More recently, the best seller If You Want a Peaceful Death, Don't Have Anything To Do with Medical Care: Recommendations for Dying of Natural Causes also seems to have boosted the popularity of these events. The book's author, Dr. Jinichi Nakamura, included a photo of himself in a coffin and also wrote, "The thing I recommend most for you to contemplate your own death in concrete terms is the experience of lying in a coffin."
Japanese society is rapidly aging. Senior citizens live longer, but each year, there are more and more. Naturally, that means there are more funerals, which are different from Western funerals due to the funeral rites and rituals. While people are put in a coffin, they are not buried in the ground. They are cremated in the coffin. The movie Departures provides a moving look at Japanese funerals and is worth watching if you want to learn more.
According to Nikkei, not everyone who is going to these coffin events is old. Personally, I don't know anyone here in Japan who has been to one, but Nikkei reports that people as young as in their twenties are experiencing lying in a coffin. "My parents are both approaching the age that they'll need nursing care," said one 26 year-old, "and I wanted to participate in this event to think and learn about what's next."
In Japanese, the kanji character for death, "死" (shi), is somewhat scary, and there's even a death superstition with the number four, which has a different kanji character (四) but can also be read as "shi". This is why in some buildings and in many hospitals, there isn't a fourth floor. These coffin experience events apparently allow people to put their mind at ease and become more comfortable with death and its inevitable process in all our lives.
棺に入ると心が安らぐ!? “入棺体験”人気の秘密 [Trendy]
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