In the Chinese Wikipedia article on sky burial, there's a section saying that sky burial is illegal in Japan:





Google translation:

Dumped suspect [My assumption for translation: Illegality of abandoning bodies]

In some places, burial behavior may violate abandoned corpses offense.


Penal Code section 190 (dead body damage Huai crime)

Did Japanese Buddhists once use sky burial for their dead? Or is the ban just a broader ban that just happens to include sky burial?

2 Answers 2


I was curious about this question and I found some sources that might answer this question more or less:

...in ancient Japanese society, prior to the introduction of Buddhism and the funerary practice of cremation, the corpse was exposed in a manner very similar to the Tibetan sky burial.

This excerpt is from the wiki article on Excarnation.

The following link opens to a part in an ebook that might help answer this question:


  • Can you quote a sentence or two from the eBook which would tend to answer the question? I didn't notice one that seemed relevant.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 23, 2016 at 18:43

I remember reading something about sky burial like practices being done in pre-Buddhist Japan where the corpse was placed on top a tall platform to be picked clean by birds, but when Buddhism was introduced, they brought with them the practice of cremation which then became standard. In Shinto, death is considered unclean, so the fact that the Buddhists had formal funeral rites made Buddhist style funerals popular very quickly, so the sky burial like practices were abandoned.

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