The first columbarium in the Chubu region to use an automated cinerary box conveyor system opened last month in Nagoya as the popularity of tombs that do not require much maintenance grows.

In Tokyo, the number of such columbaria, where many sets of remains can be housed in one place, is rising due to a shortage of burial grounds. Toyota Industries Corp., which developed the system, says this method of storing the ashes of the dead will spread in rural areas as well as Japan's birthrate dips and its elderly population expands.

Toyota Industries holds 70 percent of the domestic market for the conveyor system, a technology that was originally developed for distribution warehouses.