November 29, 2010
Japanese Family Mart to offer funeral services
In a country in which stoicism is the norm, the economic downturn in Japan has taken a huge emotional toll on its people. The government in Japan said that suicides and depression last year cost its economy almost 2.7tn yen ($32bn). While depression in Japan is under urgent scrutiny, the continuing deflation means rather callous measures for those living. A year ago suburban retail giant Aeon introduced a funeral service, with prices ranging from just under 300 thousand yen (about $3,500) to 1.5 million (about $17,850). Now, convenience store chain Family Mart is now planning to launch their own funeral business.
Most funerals in Japan are formidably expensive, often costing over 1 million yen (about $11,900). Unsympathetic consumers are looking for more choice and value, especially as most of the formalities and processes associated with traditional funerals are arguably now very remote from most people’s lifestyles.
With gravestones installing QR codes, where loved ones are stored in a personal sealed box which is kept in an underground vault and accessed with a RFID card, Japanese graves are turning death into a contemporary experience.
Family Mart will arrange fresh flowers and luxurious offerings on the altar to crematoriums and funeral car arrangements. Funerals will also be conducted in accordance with old traditions and customs and will target regional consumers. It is possible too that a convenience store funeral would include options for consumers’ more “modern” tastes.