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At Tokyo's Ruriden columbarium, LED lights guide each visitor to the niche holding the cremated remains of their loved ones. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)
The Big Story

Funerals for the 21st century: Asia's new ways to say goodbye

From drive-thru cemeteries to 'green' burials, rituals are changing with the times

AYAKO HIRONO, Nikkei Asian Review assistant business and market news editor, DEAN NAPOLITANO, Nikkei Asian Review deputy editor, and NIKKI SUN, Nikkei staff writer | China

TOKYO/HONG KONG -- On a recent Saturday afternoon on the roof deck of a small ship in Tokyo Bay, 13 passengers sat in somber silence as the vessel chugged its way to the middle of the inlet. The tortured lyrics of John Lennon's 1970 song "Mother" wafted faintly from a speaker inside the boat as jets roared against a deep blue sky above.

In the water below, hundreds of brightly colored flower petals floated on the surface, marking the spot where a paper bag containing the cremated remains of a passenger's family member had been tossed into the bay.

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