Social Issues

Innovation opens the way for weddings, funerals in the time of coronavirus

By Demofilo Pelaez

Tokyo, May 11 (efe-epa).- The ingenuity of some Japanese companies is facilitating the celebration of weddings and funerals despite the restrictions imposed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic through videocall applications, which allow people to say a final goodbye to their loved ones through Zoom or witness couples exchanging wedding vows, all while maintaining a safe distance from each other.

These weddings and funerals can be held without a single guest in the room but with loved ones witnessing these important events on their computers screens from anywhere in the world.

A wedding where guests must be kept to a minimum or to have to keep a safe distance can be a heartbreaking option for many young couples whose marriage plans have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

Osaka-based company, Mooo Wedding, met with a flood of requests for the postponement or cancellation of weddings from its clients and decided to offer a new format from mid-April: marriages with the participation of guests via video calls.

“Instead of waiting for the situation to settle down, we spoke internally to go ahead and change the current situation ourselves,” Mooo Wedding’s chief executive, Ryuta Ishitani, told EFE.

The first of these weddings took place on Apr. 18, when the bride and groom said “I do” in a practically empty room but in front of a screen full of smiling faces.

For the hundred guests who watched the ceremony excitedly from their homes, it was not only safer but also cheaper. A video provided by the company showed many of them were dressed in their finest and raising a toast to the happy couple from their living rooms.

Thanks to the online format, guests from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, who otherwise may not have been able to attend the ceremony, could take part in it.

Another company that has adapted events to the times is the funeral company, Nishida, located in central Japan’s Nagoya city, which offers to conduct a loved one’s funeral rites from a distance using the Zoom video call app.

“I thought of a way to say goodbye and protect the safety of the attendees,” CEO Yuki Nishida told EFE.

The entrepreneur argues that his idea ties in with a Japanese tradition of worship and prayer for the dead from a distance, which has been modernized under the prevailing circumstances through the use of new technologies.

“The number of people who use it is gradually increasing. Under the influence of coronavirus, I believe this way of attending funerals will gradually spread,” Nishida said.

According to local news agency Kyodo, other Japanese companies including Memolead are also holding funerals through video calls and even offer the possibility of sending condolence money through QR codes attached to the obituaries sent by the families.

When the period of social distancing ends, this path of attending weddings and funerals via video calls could help people with mobility difficulties, those who live in remote areas or who cannot attend for any other reason, not miss these important moments involving their loved ones.

If this format catches on, people will longer have an excuse not to attend a wedding they don’t feel like going to with the option of being able to follow it from the sofa of their house. EFE-EPA


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