Markets in everything the countercyclical asset the culture that is Japan

by on September 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm in Economics | Permalink

…Teramura’s place is neither a love nest nor a pit stop for tired travelers. The white and grey tiled building is a corpse hotel, its 18 deceased guests tucked up in refrigerated coffins…

The daily rate at Lastel, as it is known, is 12,000 yen ($157). For that fee, bereaved families can check in their dead while they wait their turn in the queue for one of the city’s overworked crematoriums.

Death is a rare booming market in stagnant Japan and Teramura’s new venture is just one example of how businessmen are trying to tap it.

Here is more.  Unlike with crematoria, in this market entry is not restricted or licensed.

Norman Pfyster September 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I read the post title, and it felt like a bad video game translation: Somebody set us up the bomb!

Rahul September 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm

How hard can it be to burn 200 lbs of organic matter?

msgkings September 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm

200? The Japanese are generally smaller, and the dad ones are smaller still in general, being 80+ years old. Try 100 lbs.

Which makes your point stronger.

msgkings September 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

‘dead’ ones

zbicyclist September 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

As a father who’s old enough to join AARP, I hate to see Freudian slips like “dad” for “dead”.

J Cuttance September 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm

crematoriums do, in fact, have to switch the diesel burners off earlier for obese corpses because the fat burns off hotter

Rahul September 15, 2011 at 12:31 am

Diesel seems old school. All the new ones here in India are electric. Some German even designed a solar crematorium for us:

http://www.solare-bruecke.org/infoartikel/Papers_%20from_SCI_Conference_2006/22_wolfgang_scheffler.pdf

Rahul September 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm

How long before a Jap adds a waste heat turbine. Renewable electricity anyone?

Sid the sidious September 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I see an awesome potential sci-fi/horror movie plot here.

Rahul September 15, 2011 at 12:27 am

Could it be self-sustaining? i.e. Can enough electricity be made to burn the next corpse for free.

zbicyclist September 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm

It seems odd to have a crematorium queue. I’ve only arranged cremations twice, and there wasn’t a queue either time. $157 is more than I paid for the first cremation! (in 1985)

Rahul September 15, 2011 at 12:33 am

The going rate here in India is about $20 / corpse. Although I suspect some subsidies are at play.

Michael G Heller September 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Can I suggest a cultural equation drawing on yesterday’s ‘Assorted Links”. I thought at the time that if you put the Swiss hyper-tidy man to work on the Italian Job as described by Alesina & Giavazzi you might end up with a sum that looks like the Japanese health care system. To be precise, 1 + 5 = 4. Now I wonder whether the health care system failures in Japan are the reason for the queues at the crematoriums. But even without the causal effect of health care systems there would still be a high probability that Swiss efficiency added to Italian fatalism in its dealing with the bottomless pit of the welfare state would produce a similar postmortem outcome. Digging holes and filling them. After all Catholic Italians revel in postmortem decorative art in almost equal measure to Shinto Japanese. Only the style is different. Hope I’m not guilty of cultural stereotyping.

ohwilleke September 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Another interesting dead body economics fact about Japan: In the U.S. it is customary to buy a cemetery plot which includes a charge for a fund providing for its permanent upkeep. In Japan, your relatives pay rent on a plot, and went the rent stops because nobody with money cares about the dead person anymore, the plot is reused by someone else.

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