Companies in Japan are looking to provide innovative new products and services to meet the demands of a market that has undergone rapid and dramatic change in the last half century.
Tradition has been replaced in many sectors by technology — and firms that are slow to embrace that evolution lose ground to their rivals.
The same rule holds true even in death care industry, where demand is rising.
There were a record 1.58 million deaths in Japan during 2022, up from 1.26 million in 2012, continuing a long-term trend as Japan's population ages and declines.
And as elsewhere, companies in the funerals and memorials business are delivering convenience for consumers.
Alpha Club Musashino specializes in event services, although its eight wedding venues and 80 funeral halls indicate the latter part of its business is becoming increasingly important.
Based in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo, the company is putting the finishing touches to a digital graveyard that can be accessed by the family of the deceased at any time.
'Too busy to pay respects'
"A lot of people do not live near their family grave site any more and are very busy, which makes it difficult for them to visit and pay their respects," said Kie Ishii, who heads the digital project's rollout.
"People will be able to access our metaverse cemetery through their computer or mobile phone and see their avatar with other people," she told DW.
Users will be able to see photos of their deceased loved ones, deliver virtual flowers, leave messages in books of condolence and communicate with other people paying their virtual respects through a chat function on the site.
Another benefit of remembering a loved one online is that there is no need to buy a plot of land at a temple, erect a gravestone and then pay for its upkeep.
"My grandfather died three years ago and my father now takes care of the family grave, but it's in a little village in the mountains of northern Gifu Prefecture and it takes me more than three hours to drive there," said Yae Oono, a housewife who now lives in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo.
"I do want to pay my respects and we always go during the Obon season to clean the grave and leave new flowers," she added, referring to the festival period when many Japanese take their summer vacation.