Japan, a country deeply influenced by traditions, is increasingly adopting technological advances across various aspects of life. The urgency for this digital shift is especially evident in the death care sector, given the record 1.58 million deaths in 2022, up from 1.26 million in 2012. As the population ages and declines, demand for funeral services has risen sharply. However, tradition gradually makes room for technology as companies innovate to meet evolving needs.
Alpha Club Musashino and the Metaverse Cemetery Movement
Alpha Club Musashino, primarily known for its event services, is in the vanguard of this transformation and introducing a metaverse cemetery. Located in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, the digital graveyard offers a modern solution to a centuries-old practice. Kie Ishii, the person overseeing the digital project, told DW, “A lot of people do not live near their family grave site anymore and are very busy, which makes it difficult for them to visit and pay their respects.”
The metaverse cemetery is designed to ease this modern dilemma. Individuals can visit a digital rendition of their family’s gravesite through a computer or mobile phone. “People will be able to access our metaverse cemetery through their computer or mobile phone and see their avatar with other people,” Ishii elaborated. In this virtual space, users can deliver virtual flowers, pen messages in online condolence books, and interact with other visitors through chat.
Shifting Cultural Norms and the Metaverse’s Future Role
As Kie Ishii noted to DW, technological solutions like the metaverse cemetery are increasingly important because traditional norms are changing. This year’s survey by Tokyo-based communications firm Planet Inc. showed that 36% of Japanese no longer visit their family graves. Moreover, government data revealed a 55% increase in applications to relocate family graves over the past decade, indicating a willingness to move away from established practices.
While there may be some concerns about the erosion of tradition, the rapid adoption of digital solutions—ranging from QR code-equipped gravestones to the metaverse cemetery—suggests an evolving mindset. The marriage of tradition and technology is becoming an accepted part of Japanese culture, which will likely only expand in the future.
Japan’s Metaverse Innovation
In Japan, more people find it hard to visit the graves of loved ones in person. To address this, virtual solutions like the metaverse cemetery are offering a new and impactful way to pay respects. This isn’t the only area where Japan is merging tradition with technology; they’re also using the metaverse to help struggling students. While there’s concern about losing touch with traditional practices, these digital options are helping to find a middle ground between the past and modern life.