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Same-sex couples can now be buried together in Tokyo temple

Same-sex couples can now be buried together in Tokyo temple

LGBTI couples will be allowed to share a grave in a Buddhist temple in Tokyo.

The Shodaiji Temple made the decision after receiving an increase in inquiries from LGBTI couples.

‘We’d like to care for people of diverse sexualities and help those who are worried about their graves,’ a Shodaiji official told the Japan Times.

More than 99% of people are cremated in Japan and buried in a family grave based on a strict family registry.

While same-sex marriage is illegal in Japan but there are no restrictions on unmarried couples being buried together.

But according to Mutsumi Yokota, chief researcher at the All Japan Cemetery Association, unmarried couples are rarely buried together because of opposition from families.

‘As far as I know, there are no graves same-sex couples can share,’ said Joji Inoue, Shodaiji’s chief priest.

He came up with the idea of the LGBTI-friendly grave saying he to change the concept of graves in Japan.

‘Buddhism doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sex or impose an idea of what a person should be,’ Inoue said.

‘I hope to eliminate prejudice and discrimination’.

A beautiful tombstone

The special tombstone is a white marble, cylindrical structure that is 1.2 meters high. Inoue has named it ‘&’ pronounced ando in Japanese. Ando means a sense of relief, in the hope people can rest in peace with their loved ones after death.

The tombstone is a 1.2-meter-high white marble, cylindrical structure. People will be able to inscribe their real names or nicknames on it.

If LGBTI couples do not have anyone to look after their graves, the temple will move their ashes to a group burial facility six years after they die.

‘If a same-sex couple share a grave, that will do no harm to other people,’ said 26-year-old Miki Kogure who wants to share a grave with her partner.

‘In reality, however, there are a lot of obstacles.’