Countries across the world have unique cultural traditions, more so in Asia where almost every nation has a rich and recorded history, complete with elaborate myths that add an aura of mysticism. Japan is no different, and while some of its traditions are known in the West, there is one particular festival that trumps the rest given just how bizarre it is.
The “Shukatsu Festa” is an annual festival held in Tokyo where people are taught to prepare for their own deaths but in a “fun” way.
Sounds strange? Well, it’s true. The Japanese word “Shukatsu” translates to preparing for the end, and during this so-called festival, which is observed on Dec. 16 each year, people are given step-by-step guidelines on how to welcome the end of their own mortality.
The festival is hosted by the “ending industry” in Japan, which is essentially the industry that deals in coffins and capes.
Elaborate workshops are conducted to educate people about death through various lectures and presentations. What’s more? The participants are also given a “first-hand” experience to know what it’s like to be dead, well almost.
To ensure an “authentic” experience during the Shukatsu Festa, the participants are often asked to lay in coffins with the lids closed and are also taught how to prepare bodies for burial after death.
A huge number of vendors are invited to display their products for trial, including funeral attire for both men and women, caskets, as well as plenty of makeup and hair options.
Furthermore, people also try on “corpse wear” before lying down in a coffin. It is not uncommon for over-enthusiastic participants to click selfies to record their “practice death.”
“This kind of event is held for those people who want to decide many things while they are still alive,” said China Tachiwana, an employee at Mitsubishi’s Tomoni, as per News 18.
It can be noted that Japan is home to one of the largest populations of seniors, with a majority of the citizens aged 65 years and above.
The event reportedly attracted more than 5,000 people to Tokyo in 2014, which was one of the highest attendances seen in the festival at the time.
Despite the practicality with which the message of death is communicated, the festival also serves as a reminder about the unpredictability of life. It changes people’s perception of death and urges them to avoid thinking of it in a negative light.