This paper will explore the worldwide popularization of the practice of natural/green funeral by focusing on a case study of “natural burial” in the United Kingdom. Recently, some countries have provided alternative natural burial sites, for example, the United Kingdom, Germany, North America, South Korea, and Japan. Although most Western countries seem to be inspired by the United Kingdom’s practices, the unique feature of Japan’s “tree burial” practice is that its origin is not related to Western contexts. Therefore, it is important to consider how such natural options have acquired global significance among different societies. Some scholars insist that this phenomenon results from a global concern for environmental problems. For example, D. J. Davies (2005) argues that it is an outcome of environmental concerns and the decline of traditional religions in postmodern societies. However, although such discussions are important, we also have to focus on the individual context in each case to avoid simple reductionism. Accordingly, I reveal specific social contexts pertaining to the British natural burial practice. In addition, these remarks are comparable with Japanese tree burial and so that will make it clear how these different countries are in sharp contrast.
This paper purposes to examine the relationship between the reference materials and research methods of modern Buddhism. The main subjects studied are reference tools―papers, catalogs, tables of contents, and reprints or databases―for researching Buddhist magazines. First, this study argues why it is difficult to study modern Japanese religious history and how important it is to use Buddhist magazines from the perspective of distinction and preservation of modern historical materials. Subsequently, it discusses the history of development of the aforementioned reference materials. Following the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923, since Buddhist magazines were increasingly becoming scattered and historical materials from the Meiji period were getting lost, many institutions conducted activities to preserve Buddhist magazines. In the 1930s, numerous papers and catalogs on Buddhist magazines were published. Since 1945, Ryukoku University has been continuously researching Buddhist magazines. Further, since the 1980s, a movement to publish reprints and construct databases of general newspapers has been active. After 2000, the digitization of texts on modern Buddhism, including introduction of Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), sale of magazines converted into electronic formats, and publishing of catalogs on the web, rapidly developed. This study suggests that these reference materials enable researchers to perform efficient investigations, including keyword search, and lead to the evolution of more effective methods to study the rituals of modern Buddhism.