By Kei Oumawatari
This bizarre ritual shows a funeral service being held for more than a hundred decommissioned robot dogs.
Mourners dressed in black turned up at Kofuku-ji temple in Chiba prefecture, Japan, on April 26 to pay respects to their Sony AIBOs.
With incense burning and prayers read the toy dogs were lined up side by side in three long rows on an altar in front of a priest.
The funerals began when Sony stopped offering support for the repairs of AIBOs – produced between 1999 and 2006 – in 2014.
A company called A FUN took up the mantle of maintaining the beloved robots when their president Nobuyuki Norimatsu received a request from an elderly woman.
Since then the company has performed the repairs on AIBOs using ‘organ donations’ from the defunct dogs whose funerals are held.
Mr Norimatsu said: “Many owners believe their AIBO is more than a robot, almost a real pet.
“They hold this funeral believing they can take the soul out from broken robots and use their parts to repair another broken AIBO.”
Most of the dogs have tags tied around their necks with their names and where they come from plus stories written by their owners about their experiences together.
Once the service is complete, owners then carefully wrap the dogs up in bubble wrap and cardboard boxes, so they can be transported.
In the seven years of their initial production more than 150,000 AIBOs were sold and Sony resumed production of new models in January 2018.