Same-sex couples offered graves at Tokyo temple
A Buddhist temple in Tokyo has come forward with an offer to provide graves for sexual minorities in Japan, as well as their partners.
The Japan Times reports that the Shodaiji temple in Edogawa Ward has been receiving numerous inquiries with regards to graves for members of the LGBT community.
“We’d like to care for people of diverse sexualities and help those who are worried about their graves,” says one of the Shodaiji officials.
As it stands, legal restrictions regarding unmarried couples being buried together do not exist, according to Mutsumi Yokata, chief researcher at the All Japan Cemetery Association. They handle research and offer advice on cemetery operations, along with other related issues.
However, due to opposition from relatives and the reluctance of cemetery operators, such burials are uncommon. Operators also fear the backlash that may occur in the future.
“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. It was also he who proposed to make such graves available, with the goal of changing the concept of graves in Japan. Graves are strictly bound by the country’s family registry system.
The new graves were given the name “&” which is pronounced ando in Japanese. The word ando itself means “a sense of relief.” Inoue’s idea is to offer hope that individuals may find peace with loved ones after death.
Assuming that LGBT couples may not have children to care for their graves, the temple has set for their ashes to be transferred to a group burial after six years.
“Buddhism doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sex or impose an idea of what a person should be,” Inoue said.
Hopefully, more temples in Japan will follow the lead of Shodaiji and help promote the acceptance of LGBT in the country. Alfred Bayle/JB
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