Why the Japanese find end of life planning fun! Part 1

The Japanese have a sense of humour when it comes to discussing the end of life. Their light-hearted approach to end of life-planning has caught the eye of the rest of the globe, and their clever ideas are catching on. Some would say that planning for your death could be a sombre experience – but not the Japanese. They’ve made the conversation normal, comfortable and have taken the fear and stigma out of it.

Are you in aged care or retirement and planning for your future? Do you feel comfortable having conversations about it? Read how this aged care-friendly department store in East Tokyo has changed the conversation and erased the stigma.

Embracing ‘Shukatsu’ (end of life preparations)

In Japan, over 38 million people are 65+. According to BBC Podcast ‘Japan – New Ways To Grow Old – Part 1′ this ageing population has demanded a considerable increase of aged care-friendly stores and facilities in Japan. Mr Nagahara manages Aeon Store supermarket in East Tokyo, one of many chains which’ve been around for 32 years. This franchise was completely renovated in 2013 to cater specifically for the elderly (65+). It has aged care-friendly amenities such as health care facilities (like self-service blood pressure, bone density counters and a dental clinic) a gym, a foot-spa, a walking track, fashionable walking sticks and much more. Along with all of those extraordinary services, it has an entire floor dedicated to ‘Shukatsu’.

‘Shukatsu’ is the Japanese term for ‘activities to prepare for the end of your life”.

On this shukatsu floor, shoppers can try out their own coffins in their bi-annual ‘Try Before You Buy’ event! They can also read shukatsu books from the library, write their ‘ending notes’ in provided end of life-planning booklets and attend regular shukatsu discussion groups.

Using tools to plan and process

These booklets and discussion groups give patrons the opportunity to recount precious memories, tackle the tough questions and plan for all aspects of the future. For example, aspects such as what they would still like to accomplish, which items they want to pass down to who will take care of their pets! This, invites and normalises conversation about death and creates a community for the patrons to process with. Here, Mr Nagahara explains “they can talk about these matters freely – it really helps them. They go home and discuss their wishes with their loved ones more easily”. It’s an excellent way to kick off the conversation with the family and provides tools to do it well.

This light-hearted approach not only takes the fear-goggles off, but it normalises and even minimises the idea of death. What’s your attitude and approach like? Which tools are you utilising for effective end of life-planning? Take the stigma off and have a discussion with a loved one about this, process and plan together. Do you need help locating the necessary aged care planning tools? Chat to us.

If you enjoyed Part 1 of ‘Why the Japanese find end of life planning fun!’ – click here for Part 2!


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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Readers should seek their own personal legal and financial advice from a suitably qualified practitioner.


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