Welcome to Yong’ai Garden, an area of land stretching across 1.2 hectares and one of two public parks in Taipei where tree burials have been taking place since 2007. The concept of a tree burial is simple: family members place the ashes of the deceased into a biodegradable container, and take it to the garden. They then choose from 13 clusters of almost 8,000 trees: cherry blossoms, osmanthus, magnolia, and camphor are some of the more popular options. The caretakers of Yong’ai Garden provide the family with shovels and direct them to the burial area they have chosen. They are careful not to disturb specific sites, marked by small iron rods, where another tree burial has taken place recently. The family digs a hole in the ground that is approximately half a meter deep (1’8”), places the ashes into the hole and covers it with soil and stones. The entire process is completely free of charge. In an innovative turn on traditional Chinese funerary beliefs, the bereaved are also encouraged to set up online memorial tablets for their loved ones, in place of physical gravestones.
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