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At a country where the death rate is 1.6 million per year, death is a booming market in Japan, and one Yokohama businessman named Hisayoshi Teramura is trying to tap into it by offering a hotel exclusively for the dead. Mr Teramura who already has a business of graves and funeral homes opened up this bizarre inn opposite an innocent noodle shop in a Yokohama suburb last year.
The corpse hotel named Lastel offers rooms for the dead at a daily rate of 12,000 yen where the bereaved families can temporarily keep the dead bodies while they wait their turn in the queue for one of the city’s overworked crematoriums. In Yokohama, the average wait for an oven is more than four days, driving up demand for half-way morgues such as Lastel.
“Otherwise people have to keep the bodies at home where there isn’t much space,” says Teramura. It also provides a captive audience to which he can market his other funeral services and wares.
Using an automated storage system, the hotel stores and chills encoffined corpses, delivering them through hatches and into a viewing room, day or night, whenever friends and family come to pay their respects.
Hisayoshi Teramura’s inn looks much like any other small lodging that dots the port city. Occasionally, it’s even mistaken for a love hotel by couples. The hotel staff turns them away saying they only have cold rooms. Cheesy!
An employee of funeral operator Lastel shows a kitchen of a condominium lodge where bereaved family members can stay (Yuriko Nakao / Reuters)
An employee adjusts flowers in a viewing room, where chilled encoffined corpses. (Yuriko Nakao / Reuters)
Morticians prepare a body at the Lastel corpse hotel in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, September 10, 2011. (Yuriko Nakao / Reuters)
A Buddhist monk takes a seat during a photo opportunity at funeral operator Lastel’s room (Yuriko Nakao / Reuters)
An employee adjusts a coffin sold at the Lastel corpse hotel (Yuriko Nakao / Reuters)