Whenever people ask me what I want to happen after I die, I always tell them I want a Super Mario-themed funeral where, at the end of the ceremony, the Mario death music plays and my casket is launched a few feet up in the air, then allowed fall down into the earth. I’ve always thought that would be a pretty cool way for friends and family to send me off, but the actual location of the funeral – or even really what happened to my body afterwards – has never been all that important to me.

Westerners have surprisingly little ritual when it comes to death. There’s usually a wake or a funeral, and then, if you’re lucky, every couple of years Solid Snake comes by to stand in front of your grave, look grim and deliver a two-hour monologue about the horrors of war. The Japanese, on the other hand, make a point to visit and pay respects to the dead every year through somewhat ritualized ohakamairi, so the location of your grave is an important thing to consider.

So important, apparently, that specialty online grave retailer Ohakamagokorokakaku (“ohakamago”) is considering offering a service to move the graves of loved ones, and recently conducted a survey among Japanese people asking: “Where would you most like to ‘live’ after death?”

Now, since “Mom’s basement,” or “in a bitchin’ Pharaoh tomb” would be the obvious answers for nearly everyone if they were options, the company narrowed choices down to just Japanese cities. Here’s how they rank, based on the number of “I’d probably like to have my earthly remains moved here” responses:

1) Yokohama (Kanagawa)

2) Kamakura (Kanagawa)

3) Kawasaki (Kanagawa)

4) Hachioji (Tokyo)

5) Minato-ku (Tokyo)

6) Sagamiharashi (Kanagawa)

6) Chiba (Chiba)

6) Saitama (Saitama)

7) Meguro (Tokyo)

7) Setagaya-ku (Tokyo)

7) Tama (Tokyo)

7) Ichikawa (Chiba)

(The repeating numbers represent ties)

Okay, so now that we’ve had a little fun with the survey, it’s time for some qualifications:


Despite the tongue-in-cheek survey title, Japanese graves are usually small plots where generation after generation are “entombed” – remember, cremation is the norm in Japan so there aren’t usually bodies to worry about. Plots are often located on or near temple grounds and, if a family has enough money, there’s a large altar-style cement gravestone to mark the place. This is the thing that’s moved when ohakamago talks about moving graves.

So, what the survey is really asking is: Where would you most like your family’s gravestone to be located? In other words, “what city would you most like you and your entire family to live and die in?”


So, Yokohama got first place by a long shot because it’s a beautiful city with convenient transport links, and Kamakura came second because there’s tons of nature and it’s near the ocean. Convenience seemed to play a major factor, as those surveyed said that they live anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours (one-way) from their family’s grave site and that they were twice as likely to visit more than once a year if the site was close.

Family gravestone relocation services have existed in the past, often to move graves from derelict graveyards in far-flung locations – graveyards falling into disarray because they lose people to care for them being a somewhat common problem – but what ohakamago is proposing is more of a Kanto area city-to-city relocation service.

Indeed, when the survey asked those who said they lived two-plus hours from their family grave plot, around 26% said imagined it would be necessary to move it some day.

We could go on but we’ll stop here. The survey results go into a whole bunch of other details that, honestly, would put this piece at a few pages long, so we’re not going to go into them. Besides, it’s pretty dry and we don’t want to… bore you to death.

Source: PR Times
Photos: Kazuo OgasawaraKatorisiCaptan76 via Wikimedia Commons