Saturday, July 9, 2011

Meeting With Family Departed - A Traditional Sapporo Cemetery

5th August, 2010 - Today was going to be a big day, and it was going to start off with a trip to T-chan's Ojiichan's grave in Sapporo. L-kun had been to Japanese cemeteries a few times now, and he knew (instinctively) that these were different sorts of places. He also knew that there was a connection between this place and what Okaasan did in terms of the family shrine, or butsudan back at her home. He naturally did, as he often does at home, and put his hands together in prayer. I doubt that there's much prayer going on - other than wishing for some of the food offering to be offered his way... Still, it makes you wonder. What do children think about in cemeteries?

Now this cemetery is quite different from the one at Takino (where Otousan's family's grave is). This is more your old-school cemetery. Nothing too fancy, and a little more traditional. The cemetery is in a relatively nice location in the city with the graves leading up to a hillside shrine, Souma Jinja... it's a peaceful resting place.

The mood in this cemetery is still, and slightly sombre. In that, it reminds me of a more typical cemetery that I might find in country Australia (ok - minus the Buddhist statues...). And quite a contrast to our next stop...

I'm sure there are many stories to tell in this place... and it's also the sort of place that invites the visitor to wander around and examine the headstones (though I'm not sure about how this is seen). There are many interesting examples in the cemetery, which a sense of unease prevented me from focussing on. After all, a cemetery is not the sort of place that makes for a good blog story in general. It is a personal place, and filled with many memories. 

Yet there's something in seeing how different cultures mark the passing of their people; their parents, their children, and even those that are no longer remembered in any other way. And how at the end of the day, they are not too dissimilar.

I have to admit that I don't know much about the history of this small cemetery...It's a nice spot however to be at one with the earth again, and I suppose that's not a bad thing to seek for in that which comes after. 

We paid our respects to T-chan's Ojiichan - whom we last saw back in the 2005 New Year prior to his passing. Partings are never final however, and we often meet even those that have gone before in our thoughts. I hope that he would have been happy for his grand-daughter, and satisfied that I had been looking after her well enough. I recall his soft gentle smile the first time I met him; and seeing him at our pre-wedding party back in October 2003. They are happy memories for me.


  1. Looks like a very peaceful place especially with the black & white images.

    Japan Australia

  2. It's a nice place; but low key. Unlike the next cemetery, Takino Reien (which I describe next) - like chalk and cheese.

  3. Nice words and pictures, Ben.

    I have a question for you but will ask it privately.


  4. Hi Adrian, the best way to contact me is through the Kontactr widget on my page..,. on the right hand side - just look for Ask Me A Question

  5. Hi mate,

    Just tried several times, it doesn't seem to like the security code?


  6. Hi Adrian
    Just tried and it works ok for me. Are you sure you're not using CAPS LOCK or something? Are you putting in an email address?

    If you want to ask a question without me publishing it, I can answer directly.

  7. Thanks, just worked it out. I switched to a Mac a couple of years ago and my main browser is Safari. As with all browsers, you occasionally find a website that doesn't agree with it. In this case trying to use the contact form via Safari didn't work but it does with Firefox.

    Might be something worth remembering if it ever happens to someone else.

    You should have my email now.

    Thanks, Adrian