Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Takino Cemetery - A Different Take on Resting

3rd November, 2003 - Cemeteries are meant to be reflective places; peaceful and still. They are meant to be private and respectful. The Japanese have a slightly different take on the whole cemetary thing. At least in Sapporo. T-chan's grandfather is buried in the Takino Cemetery (Takino Reien) to the south of Sapporo. We often come to pay our respects when we come to Sapporo, and today was beautiful weather. We packed a lunch (onigiri or rice balls) and headed off - it's about 20km from Sapporo and best reached by car.

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The cemetary is a long drive from T-chan's house, and it's deep in the wooded area. Yet there's a few things that you will notice about the cemetary... there are odd monuments that dot the surrounds. Some classic greek sculptures alongside a traditional Japanese pagoda? Why not.

Hold on... was that that for real? Yes.... it was.

Ok... I'll see that and raise you a full-size Stonehenge replica (in fact, this one is complete, unlike the original).

But perhaps the finale is the collection of silent watchers that stand at attention near the entrance of the cemetary. Of course every cemetery needs a collection of Easter Island Heads.

Of course, you could waste a lot of energy trying to explain what all of these monuments have to do with a Buddhist cemetary. Don't bother... it's one of life's mysteries. It is, however, quite a Japanese thing to do. In a later post I'll show you the new arrival.... but you'll need to wait. In the mean-time, we said hello to T-chan's grandfather, had a lovely lunch, and reflected on our own interpretations... and sent our own small messages of peace off into the universe.

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  1. This is amazing, surely bets when I was invited to a cherry blossoms viewing on the Aoyama cementery in Tokyo.

  2. I have to say that my first reaction was WTF! Is this a cemetery or a theme-park? I guess it's partly about being different, and partly about making a statement (about being different). I've been back three times now and it's still strange. Plus they keep adding new features. I suppose it's meant to remind us about the mysteries of time; and the importance of leaving signs behind. Hmmm - who knows?

    It's also a good place for cherry blossoms too.. but wrong season during this trip.