Morgue-cum-inns: Here’s why corpse hotels are in demand in Japan | more lifestyle | Hindustan Times
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Morgue-cum-inns: Here’s why corpse hotels are in demand in Japan

The fast-ageing society, high death rate and prevalence of nuclear families in Japan have led to a growing number of itai hoteru in the country where people can check in their dead till the crematorium or cemetery becomes available.

more lifestyle Updated: Jul 03, 2017 07:33 IST
A coffin awaiting departure to the crematorium at Hotel Sousou,  a corpse hotel in Kawasaki City, Japan.
A coffin awaiting departure to the crematorium at Hotel Sousou, a corpse hotel in Kawasaki City, Japan. (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Corpse hotels, or hotels where people can check in their dead till the crematorium or cemetery becomes available, have become a burgeoning trend across Japan. The fast-ageing society and death rate in the country have contributed to this practical solution in cities. According to an Al Jazeera report, 99% of people are cremated in Japan, the highest rate of cremation in the world. Due to this rush, a crematorium isn’t always readily available.

The fast-ageing society and death rate in the country have led to a demand for these practical morgues-cum-inns for the dead. (REUTERS)

At one such ‘itai hoteru’ in Osaka, Hotel Relation, the rooms have built-in altars and platforms to hold the temperature-controlled coffins. Up to four relatives can sleep in an adjacent room which has twin beds and a TV. A large number of the clientele at Hotel Relation prefers to spend a day or two with their departed family member before the crematorium becomes ready.

A man standing before his deceased mother’s coffin with his wife to pay his respects. (REUTERS)

“Crematories need to be built, but there isn’t any space to do so and that is creating funeral refugees,” Hisao Takegishi, who started Sousou, a corpse hotel, in 2014, told The Telegraph.

According to a news report in The Seattle Times, the demand for corpse hotels is only going to grow. About 1.3 million people died in Japan Last year, up 35% from 15 years earlier, and the annual death rate is expected to go up till it touches 1.7 million in 2040, as per the Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare.

The corpse hotel in Kawasaki city. (REUTERS)

Economically too, Corpse hotels make more sense. The ST report quotes the Japan Consumer Association, which says the average funeral in Japan costs 1.95 million yen, or about $17,690 (approx Rs 11.4 lakh). The cheapest deal at Hotel Relation would cost 185,000 yen, or about $1,768 (approx over Rs 1 lakh).

These stopovers for the deceased first made an appearance in Japan about five years back. They have been steadily mushrooming since then.

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