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Under the microscope: "itai hoteru"

What is an itai hoteru?

What is an itai hoteru?

It is a Japanese term that translates to “corpse hotel”. It is, as you may guess from the name, a hotel where rooms come with small alters and platforms designed to hold coffins. Some rooms also have climate-controlled coffins with transparent lids, so mourners can look inside.


What typically happens following a death in Japan?

The custom is for families to take the bodies of their loved ones home from the hospital and sit for an overnight wake. This is followed by a service the next morning, then in the afternoon the body is sent to a crematorium.


What have itai hoteru got to do with this?

Thanks to massive population growth in Japan, the number of deaths per year has climbed so quickly that families often have to wait several days before a body can be cremated. The itai hoteru provide a place where a body can be stored at low cost until the crematorium is available.


What is typically included?

A room for the family and corpse to spend the night, flowers, traditional white gown for the deceased, a simple coffin, transport of the body from the hospital and to the crematorium and an urn for the ashes.


Will demand continue increasing?

Yes, it is likely. Last year, 1.3 million people died in Japan, up 35% from 15 years earlier. The annual toll is expected to continue to rise until it peaks at 1.7 million in 2040.

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