In Japan, 99 percent of the dead are cremated and the ashes are traditionally buried in the family grave -- scattering the ashes in the hills or the sea has long been considered taboo.

So when well-known actor Yujiro Ishihara died in 1987, his family refrained from scattering his remains in his beloved Pacific Ocean right away. Instead, they did it discreetly years later to avoid any possible public controversy.

In the last few years, however, amid growing social acceptance for unconventional funerals, even some mainstream funeral companies have begun offering services, known as "shizenso," to scatter ashes in nature.