Japanese Buddhist monks
Amazon's monk service is preferred by many since the cost is considerably lower than what is charged by templesReuters/China Daily

You can get pretty much anything online these days and Amazon wants to prove that to you with one of its latest offerings. The Japanese branch of the online shopping website has started offering Buddhist monks to hire at a low cost.

Japan's weakening of communal ties with Buddhist monasteries has led to difficulty in finding monks to perform rituals such as memorial ceremonies for the deceased. To fill in the supply gap, Amazon Japan now offers Obo San Bin, or Mr Monk Delivery, from which monks can be booked to perform such ceremonies.

Minrevi Co on Amazon offers monks for basic services at a starting rate of ¥35,000 ($299, £206). The more premium plans range between ¥45,000-¥50,000.

Ties between Buddhism and the Japanese population have weakened in recent years and people looking for a quick fix prefer to turn to the rent-a-monk services rather than approach a temple.

The religious community has criticised this commercialisation of religion and pointed out that it will only degrade the relations between people and the temples.

"Such a thing is allowed in no other country in the world. In this regard, we must say we are disappointed by an attitude toward religion by Amazon," Akisato Saito, director of the Japan Buddhist Association, said in a statement.

Customers, however, are happy with the service provided by Amazon Japan, especially since the cost is much lower than what is often demanded by a temple where funeral services can often cost more than ¥1million.

"Many people don't have ties with temples and they have no idea where and how to arrange Buddhist rituals, while monks are increasingly concerned about their declining temple membership," Minrevi spokesman Jumpei Masano said. "We can cater to the needs on both sides and hopefully we can bring them together."

The company has close to 500 monks already working with it.

"Today, nobody comes to temples asking for us to perform funerals for their parents," Kaichi Watanabe, a monk who is working with Minrevi, said in an interview. "I'm hoping that a service like this, a brainchild of the internet age, could make Buddhist temples a more approachable place for everyone. There is no point being a monk if we can't offer a helping hand when someone needs us."