Death is a growth industry in Japan and everyone from railways to retailers wants a slice.

The ¥1.8 trillion funeral industry is expanding as Japan's population ages faster than any other nation. The number of people who die each year in the country will rise to 1.66 million in 2040, from about 1.14 million last year, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

As Japan emerges from its worst postwar recession, undertakers like San Holdings Inc., Tear Corp. and retailer Aeon Co. are taking advantage of the growth with cheaper funerals, snatching market share from the "mom-and-pop" parlors that dominate the industry.