Based on extensive fieldwork, Nature’s Embrace: Japan’s Aging Urbanites and New Death Rites, by Satsuki Kawano, reveals the emerging pluralization of death rites in postindustrial Japan. Low birth rates and high numbers of people remaining permanently single have led to a shortage of ceremonial caregivers (most commonly married sons and their wives) to ensure the transformation of the dead into ancestors resting in peace. Consequently, older adults are increasingly uncertain about who will perform memorial rites for them and maintain their graves. In this study, anthropologist Kawano examines Japan’s changing death rites from the perspective of those who elect to have their cremated remains scattered and celebrate their return to nature.
March 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3372-5 / $47.00 (PAPER)