This chapter addresses the difficulties of finding a grave in contemporary Japan and the dangers inherent in not finding one. It begins by introducing the concept of muen (to be without bonds), a multivalent term that encapsulates the fears of Japanese who do not have graves, as well as those who lack relatives to maintain their graves into the future. Although the fear of dying alone, without anyone to care for your grave, is certainly not limited to the modern period, demographic, social, and economic shifts have recently pushed the problem of muen into the national spotlight. Muen implicates twenty-first century Japan as a society that is not only incapable of caring for its dead but also cannot even identify them.
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