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Posts tagged cemetery

First Shogun’s Grave

Here lies Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan. He began the Edo Period, which lasted for over 260 years, and moved the capital of Japan to Tokyo (Edo) where it has remained ever since.

My first trip to Toshogu in Nikko didn’t include a visit to his grave as it isn’t in the “regular” part of the shrine. My Toshogu pass on my second visit did include admission to his tomb. The stairs leading to Ieyasu’s grave includes this fantastic view.

Zoshigaya Cemetery near Ikebukuro

ikebukuro cemetery famous people

Near Ikebukuro, pictured in the near distance in the upper right of the above photo, is a cemetery called Zoshigaya (雑司ヶ谷霊園) with many famous people. The above marker is for “John” Manjiro (中濱万次郎). Manjiro was one of the first Japanese to ever visit the United States. He did so during the Edo Period.

If you visit Zoshigaya, don’t expect the billboard-style maps to tell you where to find the notables. If the office is open, they may have maps with the locations of the famous listed so you can try there first. If not, be sure to bring along the grave site numbers for those you want to visit as the place is quite large. Manjiro can be found at plot 1-2-10-1.

i am a cat grave stone site

Plot 1-14-1-3 is Natsume Soseki’s. Soseki’s face is one of the most recognizable in Japan as he is on the 1,000 yen note.

cemetery zoshigaya ikebukuro tokyo

Lafcadio Hearn is buried in plot 1-1-8-35 under his Japanese name, Koizumi Yakumo (小泉八雲). His grave is well taken care of it seems. There is a little Japanese rock and flower garden in the plot. Ironically, a job that Hearn once held was taken over by the aforementioned Soseki. Now they are neighbors.

foreign grave in japan

One of the most interesting graves is the one above of William Wright. At some point in the past 100+ years his gravestone broke in two. Rather than replace it, the headstone top has just been leaned up against the bottom.

General Tojo Hideki (infamous for planning the Pearl Harbor attack) is in plot 1-1-12-6. He doesn’t show up on the celebrity map provided in the office. Perhaps they don’t want anyone to know he is here.

japanese graveyard

At night everyone clears out as did we.

Heirinji Thatched Roof Gate

thatch roof japanese maple niiza city japan

Today’s first photo is of the two-storied Sanmon (山門) Gate at Heirin-Ji. Another original from the 17th Century, it was moved 25 kilometers to its present location long ago.

japanese buddhist cemetery under a blue sky

This cemetery (霊園) was one of several, and the only typical one we saw, on the grounds. One featured a large burial mound and then there was the stone lantern resting place (松平信綱墓) as well.

Gokoku-ji 護国寺

Gokoku-ji 護国寺 stairs gate sunset tokyo japan

tokyo japan buddhism Gokokuji 護国寺 buddah

While riding a bus for the first time one day in an unknown area I passed the 護国寺 bus stop. The place looked huge and my bus stop wasn’t very far beyond the 護国寺 stop. So after I finished my business I walked back to this Buddhist temple. A funeral was underway. The person must have been very important as there was an unbelievable number of people in attendance. A line of more than a hundred people were waiting to get in while the inside already looked full of hundreds of people to me. Rather than have one or two places for people to check in, there looked to be more than a dozen.

Of course I didn’t take any pictures of the funeral or the people lining up, but the size of the event meant that many of the typical photos of this place wouldn’t work either as the grounds were covered in automobiles. The cemetery went on forever so I took quite a few pictures while strolling through it as the sun went down. It was one of those magical moments that can only happen when you are by yourself (which isn’t often in public in Tokyo). Other than myself there were only crows–lots of big black ones.

Not having done my homework beforehand, I had no idea how famous this place is, that it is Japan’s Imperial Mausoleum, that Emperor Meiji’s remains are here (I figured they were at Meiji Jingu), and that Gokokuji is the head temple for the Japanese tea ceremony.

I didn’t realize until I did research after taking these photos, but the third and last picture in this entry (with the crow on the torii) is of Okuma Shigenobu’s grave. Okuma Shigenobu was the founder of Waseda University and was a former, two-time Prime Minister of Japan. I actually gave a speech in the Okuma Auditorium, named in his honor, last week. Others who have given speeches in that exact same spot include Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, and Nelson Mandela. Maybe someday they will be as famous as I. 😉

Gokokuji is about a 30 minute walk from the Ikebukuro Station, or you can catch a bus in the Nishi Waseda area that will take you right there. There is also a Gokokuji Station on the Tokyo Metro.

Gokoku-ji 護国寺 japanese cemetery torii crow tokyo japan

Japanese Cemetery

“Finally they were ready to place the flowers in the flower holders.
‘The flowers make such a difference,’ Yomogida said. ‘First you get the stones all glistening with water, then you bring in the fresh flowers, and sudenly it’s all bright and cheerful.’
‘It’s pretty.’
They stood side by side looking at the grave.
‘I always like to look at it when it’s like this.'”
–Junzo Shono in Still Life and Other Stories (p. 178)

Another angle on Adashino-Nenbutsu-ji upper cemetery

Are you beginning to get the idea as to how someone who isn’t even all that interested in the beauty of a cemetery might just find the one at 化野念仏寺 to be quite beautiful and peaceful? If you ever get bored of this vantage point (but how could you?) just turn around to behold a bamboo forest.

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