A Buddhist temple in Tokyo has devised a grave that can be shared by sexual minorities and their partners.
The temple, Shodaiji in Edogawa Ward, is receiving an increasing number of inquiries about the grave for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
“We’d like to care for people of diverse sexualities and help those who are worried about their graves,” a Shodaiji official said.
There are no legal restrictions in Japan on unmarried couples being buried together, according to Mutsumi Yokota, chief researcher at the All Japan Cemetery Association, which conducts research and offers advice on cemetery operations and related issues.
However, such burials are uncommon due to opposition from relatives and reluctance from cemetery operators who fear that problems could occur in the future, Yokota said.
“As far as I know, there are no graves same-sex couples can share,” said Joji Inoue, the 43-year-old chief priest at Shodaiji, who proposed the new grave, adding that his temple wanted to change the concept of graves in Japan, which is now strictly bound by the country’s family registry system.
He named the grave for LGBT couples “&,” pronounced “ando” in Japanese, which means a sense of relief, in the hope people can rest in peace with their loved ones after death.