With the aging population of Japan, one of the concerns would be finding one’s resting place. As a traditional funeral service costs a fortune, a U.S. company based in San Francisco is now offering a “space funeral” service in Japan that would allow the ashes of a person to be sent to space and orbit the earth.
Elysium Space Inc., a “unique team of space and funeral experts,” launched its space funeral service in Japan on Tuesday. When a person dies and is cremated, a gram of his ashes will be contained in an individual “space-grade” aluminum capsule, which can be tracked through smartphones and tablets using the company’s mobile application. Space funeral missions can take one hundred to four hundred individual capsules into space at a time. After several months following the launch, a capsule then “harmlessly reenters the Earth’s atmosphere, blazing as a shooting star.”
The space burial is considered an alternative way of bidding adieu to a deceased relative. It is also cheaper than most burial services. According to Japan Institute of Life Insurance, a burial plot and a tomb stone in Tokyo cost 2.7 million yen (approx. US$27,500), while Elysium Space’s funeral service only costs 195,000 yen ($1,990).
Space burial is not the only non-traditional way of giving a final resting place for a relative. Others have tried spreading a relative’s ashes in the seas. There were also some who have ‘planted’ a relative’s remains under a tree, or planted a young tree in a pot with a deceased’s ashes. According to Hikaru Suzuki, a researcher on life and death at the University of Sydney, “In both Japan and the United States, there are growing numbers of people thinking about how they want to handle their deaths, without being bound by religious traditions.”