Japan: Talent contests for funerary professionals

A woman competing in the nokan contest with a live model Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sayuri Takahashi took home a trophy after demonstrating her "nokan" skills on a live - though very still - model

A three-day exhibition entirely devoted to showcasing funerary services has been held in Japan.

The inaugural Life Ending Industry Expo welcomed more than 7,000 visitors per day to its venue in Tokyo, according to organisers. Among its more unusual events was a competition for professionals in "nokan", or the ritual of preparing a body for burial or cremation, who demonstrated their methods on a live model, the Asahi Shimbun website reports. Contestants were partly judged on how gracefully the process was carried out, and the winner was awarded a trophy and cash prize.

Another contest saw Buddhist monks and priests show off their skills in an effort to encourage people back to traditional funerals, with one participant karate-chopping a pile of tiles with his bare hand.

As well as professional demonstrations, the huge space also hosted displays from more than 200 businesses offering everything from luxury hearses to novelty urns, the NHK news website says. There was also information on non-traditional services, including an exhibit touting "space burials", in which a person's ashes are launched into space on a rocket.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Elaborate hearses and personalised coffins were also on show

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