The Ending Center, a non-profit organization in Japan, has been working with a cemetery in Tokyo to offer alternative ways to put people to rest under trees, according to an article in The Japan Times.

The service, called jumokuso, or “tree burial,” is also offered at an Osaka cemetery run by the center.

Easing the end-of-life problem

The number of over-65s in Japan was 31.7 million as of August 2013, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, up 1.1 million on the previous year.

In light of this, a growing number of people are considering how they will be put to rest when the time comes. This growth is becoming too fast for some funeral and burial service companies. In the fiscal year 2012, the Consumer Affairs Agency reported that the number of funeral consultations reached almost 700 cases. As such, the agency is expecting more consumer problems involved with death arrangements.

This isn’t the first time Japan has had to address the storage of remains. Although society has begun to accept the need to conserve space and resources, it is important to handle this issue sensitively. Commemoration of ancestors is central to many cultural traditions.

As we’ve seen with biodegradable urns in Spain, wool coffins in the UK and cremated remains in US reefs, alternative burials resolve energy or space problems while still remembering a loved one in a very unique way. As changing demographics pressure the death industry, solutions can be found by aligning eco-friendly ideas with the traditional needs of cultures.