Zuishinin Temple is there for women who say one lifetime together is enough.
It’s often said that Japan has a group-oriented outlook on life, and that also holds true for death. Rather than individual resting places, Japanese graves are a family affair, with the ashes of the deceased being enshrined in the same grave as their familial ancestors.
The definition of “family” in this case includes spouses. While in some cases a Japanese man will join his wife’s family registry after marriage, the norm is for a woman to become part of her husband’s family once the couple is wed, which means that when she passes away, her ashes will be placed in the same grave as the one for her husband’s.
However, not every woman is keen on the idea of spending eternity in such close proximity to the man she married. “I don’t want to to share a grave with you!” may be a stereotypical phrase used by irate wives in Japan, but at least some of them are quite serious about it, which is where Zuishinin Temple comes in.
Located in Kyoto, Zuishinin made the decision a while back to spend 30 million yen (US$259,000) in renovations to convert one of its sutra storage buildings into a mausoleum exclusively for women.
The facility is called the Onodo, after classical Japanese poet Ono no Komachi. Recognized as one of the six poetic masters of Japan’s ninth-century literary world, Ono no Komachi never married, and spent much of her later years at Zuishinin.
▼ Portraits of the poetic masters, including Ono no Komachi, adorn the walls of the mausoleum.
In addition to the remains of unmarried women who don’t want their remains placed in their family’s grave, the temple has expressly said that married women who don’t want their ashes interred in the same grave as their husband can make use of one of one of the mausoleum’s 289 resting places, which are located behind the building’s elegantly appointed interior walls.
Prices start at 800,000 yen. In accordance with the Buddhist belief that all souls will be absolved of sin and allowed to rest in peace 33 years after the deceased’s death, aftercare services include daily reading of sutras by the temple’s monks until that point in time. Among those women so fed up with their husbands that they want a separate grave, we’re sure this extra bit of thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated.