Japanese turning to robotic crypts, virtual grave visits

A typical old-school family plot in Tokyo. The slot at the front is for visitors' business or calling cards.

(Credit: Tim Hornyak/CNET)

Japan is a crowded, cramped country dominated by mountains. There isn’t much space for its 127 million living people — or the dead.

Though the government is pulling out all the stops to battle deflationary prices, land remains very expensive. That goes for cemeteries too. Even though the vast majority of deceased are cremated and buried in urns, plots in Tokyo can still cost a small fortune.

At the same time, visiting the grave sites of loved ones remains an important tradition. Some Japanese have turned to multistory buildings for cheaper final resting places. These high-rise graveyards in urban centers house the ashes of the dead, and often feature memorial cubbyholes where relatives can offer prayers.

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