From the Daily Yomiuri Online, 1/15/12:
Activities to prepare for the final stage of life, including having photos taken to leave behind, writing down final thoughts and wishes in a special notebook, and attending workshops on how to write a will, are enjoying a quiet boom.
Experts say that behind the recent rise in popularity of these activities that take a candid approach to death is the emotional impact of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, in addition to uncertainty over the future, including life after retirement.
"Please smile. That's good," a female photographer said while taking photos of participants of a session held at a hotel in the city of Tachikawa, western Tokyo, in late November. The photos will be used for portraits after their death.
A total of 38 people in their 40s to 80s attended the session, including a couple who celebrated their golden anniversary and a woman in a hula dancing outfit. Before having their photos taken, they were done up by a makeup artist according to their request.
According to the publisher of a free paper in Tokyo that organized the photo session--its first session was held in May 2011--there were many requests to hold an additional session.
One of the staff members said: "There are plenty of people who said they had difficulty finding a photo of close relatives after they died to use as portraits. I assume the recent boom is a result of the fact that an increasing number of people don't want to cause their families unnecessary trouble after their deaths."
Link to whole story: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120111001983.htm