What is a Hearse?

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A hearse is a large vehicle, especially an automobile, accustomed to carry the body of an individual in a very coffin/casket at a funeral, wake, or memorial service. They vary from deliberately anonymous vehicles to very formal heavily decorated vehicles. Within the funeral trade of some countries, hearses are called funeral coaches.

In Japan, hearses, called reikyūsha, can are available in two styles: “Foreign” style, which is analogous in build and magnificence to an American hearse, or a “Japanese” style, during which the rear area of the vehicle is modified to resemble a little, ornate Buddhist temple.


Japanese-style Hearse:

The Japanese-style hearse generally requires the rear of the vehicle to be extensively altered; commonly, the rear roof is cut off from the front windows back and every one interior part is off from the rear likewise. The ornate Buddhist-style rear area, generally constructed of wood and during which the casket or urn is placed, is made on top of this empty cavity and most frequently is wider than the bottom of the vehicle, so that it stands out on the perimeters, over the rear body panels. Popular bases for these hearses are large sedans, minivans, and pickup trucks.

The ornaments on a Japanese-style hearse vary by region. Nagoya style decorates both the upper and lower halves of the car body. Kansai style has relatively modest decorations unpainted. Kanazawa style is thought for having a red body (other styles mostly have black bodies) with gilded ornaments. Tokyo style found anywhere else in Japan, features painted/gilded ornaments on the upper half of the body.


Foreign-style Hearse:

“Foreign” style hearses are mostly similar in appearance to their US counterparts, although their exterior dimensions and interiors reflect the Japanese preference for smaller, less ornate caskets (this in light of the national preference for cremation). this suggests that, in contrast to American hearses, the rear quarter panels require less, and sometimes no, alteration. These are generally built from station wagons like the Nissan Stagea, or executive sedans like the Toyota Celsior (Lexus LS within the US) and Nissan Cima (Infiniti Q45 within the US). American market vehicles like the Lincoln Town Car and Cadillac DeVille, which are otherwise fairly uncommon in Japan, are often converted to hearses in both styles.

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