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Mainstream and Unusual Funerals and Burial Methods in the World

Updated: May 31, 2023



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This article explains the mainstream burial methods in the world, the unusual funeral and burial methods in the world, and the unusual funeral and burial methods that have been attracting attention in Japan in recent years.


What Are the Mainstream Burial Methods in the World?

The mainstream burial methods vary depending on the country, but there are two main types: cremation and earthen burial. In Japan, more than 99% of people choose cremation, but in Europe and the United States, where there is a long history and tradition, there are countries where the culture of burial remains strong. The reason for this has to do with the Christian view of life and death.

In Christianity, death is not seen as the end, but as the final judgment by Jesus Christ, who will decide whether we will go to heaven or hell. Because of this view of life and death, there is a belief that if a person is cremated, the final judgment cannot take place. Nowadays, some Christian sects proceed with cremation, but burial is still the norm in the strict and traditional Catholic tradition.


Unusual Funerals & Burial Methods Around the World

The mainstream method of memorial services is to bury the remains and ashes in a grave after burial or cremation. Still, some unusual funeral and burial methods in the world are beyond our imagination. Here are some of the unusual funeral and burial methods in the world.

United States

It is estimated that more than 70% of people in the United States are Christian, and according to a report by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the cremation percentage surpassed burial in 2016. More and more people are choosing cremation in the United States in recent years because of its ease and affordability.

As more and more people choose cremation in the U.S., the variety of burial methods in the U.S. is also increasing. The "green funeral," in which cremated ashes are scattered in the ocean or other natural areas, as well as the "home funeral," in which the body is cleaned and prepared for burial at home, are among the most unusual funeral and burial options in the world. These services are becoming more and more popular.

China

In the West, earthen burial is common due to the Christian view of life and death, but what is the most common method of burial in East Asian countries?

In fact, in China, too, burial was originally common. This is due to the large percentage of people in China who follow Confucianism, the influence of the Confucian concept of filial piety on one's parents, and the idea that the soul is divided into two parts, heaven, and earth, after death. Nowadays, due to the influence of the Chinese government's promotion of cremation, more and more people are choosing to be cremated in China. In addition, funerals in China are very different compared to those in Japan and are often conducted lavishly, with firecrackers and draughts, and crying and shouting during the funeral. Furthermore, although there are no strict dress codes in China compared to Japan, it is common to wear white at funerals in China. Even though they are in the same Asian country, there is a big difference in the clothing worn at funerals when comparing Japan and China.

Ghana

What are the most common funeral & burial methods in Africa? Funeral and burial practices vary from country to country in Africa. In particular, in countries where African religions are accepted, different funeral and burial methods are adopted that differ from Christianity, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Funerals in Ghana, located in the western part of the African continent, are often large and grand, with participants dancing together and playing music on musical instruments, a style of funeral that would be unthinkable in Japan. Ghana is also famous for the "Coffin Dance," an overly cheerful funeral ceremony that became a hot topic on TikTok and YouTube. Dancers carrying a coffin dance lightheartedly, and the attendees join in the fun. In Ghana, death is considered a new beginning, so everyone celebrates the deceased's departure for a new life.


Actually, the history of the coffin dance is not very deep, but it is a funeral ritual that has rapidly become a hot topic in the past few years. The cost of the coffin dance is about 2000 USD for an ordinary person, but for a village headman, the cost is said to be over 5000 USD.

Mexico

You may also be curious about funeral and burial methods in Latin America. What are the funeral and burial methods in Mexico, a country known for its unusual view of life and death? In Mexico, the Day of the Dead, a festival with a long history dating back to the Aztec period, is held on November 1st and 2nd every year. The Mexican view of life and death is also very different from that of Japan, and the idea that death is an extension of life and a part of it is deeply rooted. For this reason, funerals in Mexico, like in Ghana, are held in a cheerful atmosphere. Mariachi music is often played at funerals. Also, before and after the funeral, it is common for people to enjoy talking about the deceased at a cafe where coffee and food are served.


Furthermore, there are no detailed rules about what the attendees should wear to the funeral, as the funeral itself has a cheerful atmosphere, and there are people who attend the funeral in rough clothes. In Mexico, the feeling of attending the funeral out of respect for the deceased is more important than clothing, so people can attend the funeral in relatively free clothing.


Unusual Funeral & Burial Methods in Japan


In Japan, Burial in Unauthorized Land Is Prohibited, but Scattering Bones Is Not a Crime If Done in Moderation
In Japan, Burial in Unauthorized Land Is Prohibited, but Scattering Bones Is Not a Crime If Done in Moderation

As explained above, cremation is the most common method of burial in Japan. In addition, funerals in Japan have a long history of being conducted in the Buddhist style and are usually conducted in a very solemn atmosphere. However, new burial methods are being adopted in Japan due to the declining birthrate, aging population, nuclear families, and the pandemic. Let's take a look at some of the relatively new burial methods practiced in Japan.


Space Burial


Space burial, as the name implies, is a uniquely unusual burial method in which the remains and ashes of the deceased are placed in a capsule and scattered in space. The cost of a space burial varies depending on the vendor, the scale, and the plan, but the basic plan, in which the remains are scattered as they leave the atmosphere using a rocket, starts at 450,000 yen. A romantic plan that carries a capsule containing the remains and ashes to the surface of the moon starts at 2.5 million yen.


Balloon Funeral


Balloon funerals are popular among those who want to scatter their remains and ashes high in the sky, but find space burial too expensive. A balloon funeral is a method of scattering ashes or remains by placing them in a giant balloon, carrying them to the stratosphere, and letting them burst naturally. The cost of a balloon burial is less than the cost of a space burial and can start at 240,000 yen. It is the perfect choice for those who are looking for an unusual burial method.


Memorial Diamond


A memorial diamond is called "the most beautiful funeral in the world" because of its appearance and is praised as a "minimalist funeral" by those who wish to have their graves closed or their tombs abandoned. A memorial diamond is a very romantic and unusual burial method in which carbon is extracted from the bones, ashes, and even hair of deceased loved ones and pets to make diamonds.


A memorial diamond costs $1400 and can be jewel set or laser engraved if desired. The excellent thing about memorial diamonds is that they make you feel like you can be with your beloved deceased or pet forever.


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