New burial technique established in Japan, Dec 26, 2007

Tokyo, Japan -- The Japanese are pioneers of new technology and there is every kind of button to make life easier and faster, as well as to entertain.

Tradition is being swept along with technology. Old Buddhist shrines are dwarfed by high rise buildings and even the Geisha are using cell phones.

Technology is even solving the growing problem of how to bury people after death.

Space is a premium in Japan and in Tokyo, the lack of space means the closest place for new graves is two or three hours away.

But now, there is a new trend in the funeral home business.

No longer six feet under, 4,000 graves can be stored on the single floor of a building.

In Japan, paying homage to ancestors is important and now relatives can use their swipe card to access the graves of their loved ones. And those who cannot go to the grave can user cyberspace to pay their respects.

“We have a system where they can pray using the internet,” funeral home director Suzuki Masayuki said. “They can be in touch with their loved ones 24 hours a day.”

Buddhist priest Kogen Fukaya prefers the more traditional way of praying for ancestors.

While use uses a computer and knows the value of technology, he is critical of how it has changed the families look after each other.”

“In the 1960s in Japan, people became more consumer orientated because of the industrial revolution,” he said. “They were building more, working more and buying more things. Gradually their mentality moved away from looking after their ancestors.”

Japan is progressive, but Kogen hopes the pressures of the electronic age will draw people back to the temple.