Sunday, July 17, 2011

Takino Reien... Summer Sounds and Mysterious Sights

5th August, 2010 - After departing one cemetery, we were off to another... to visit Otousan's fathers grave in Takino, further to the south of Sapporo. Now as many 'regulars' might realise (though really, if you're a regular, you should most probably re-assess your priorities).... I've been to the Takino cemetery, or Takino Reien, a few times before. In fact I've posted about it before in our trips from 2003, 2006 and 2008... It's almost certainly more notable as one of the more seriously odd cemeteries in Hokkaido... but more on that shortly.

It was hot, and the cicada's call was resounding through the hills of Takino. Cicada's, or semi, as they are known in Japan, are synonymous with summer - and they have a truly awesome sound - a sound we don't really have here in Adelaide, Australia... though it's common on the East Coast.

Visits to cemeteries are slightly odd in Japan. They're more like family meetings than anything particularly sombre. We've had lunch at Takino Reien after 'visiting relatives', and I can't imagine sitting down in a cemetery here for a bite to eat. I guess it's a time to talk... akin to a friendly update... for relatives who have already passed on. But there is a serious side - and the important thing is to first clean the grave site... and that means washing, replacing any old offerings and setting up some nice flowers (out of Okaasan's garden). 

The mood is strangely more cheerful here compared to earlier in the morning, the still forested foothills of before are replaced by the open and I have to admit sprawling cemetery plots... a forest of headstones. Yet, perhaps it's the artificiality of it that makes it less a imposing atmosphere. L-kun was definitely happy to lend a helpful hand when it came to cleaning....

As before, Okaasan and Otousan put together a beautiful floral arrangement, and prepared the candles and joss-sticks. The food offerings are made for those departed, but unlike years gone by, the food offerings are taken with us to avoid luring wild animals into the cemetery.

Now I mentioned before that Takino Reien was notable for it's oddness... as I've posted before, one of the most bizarre sights I've seen is the Easter Island heads lining the entrance of the cemetery:
From 2003 visit
Well, it's always a bit of a mystery as to what they'll build next, but even I wasn't expecting the addition that we found. A new Easter Island head had suddenly appeared since last we were there. This one had a distinctively different air about him however. Something a little more modern... virile... commanding... he obviously had leadership potential in the way he stood out from the crowd. Seriously - no one apparently can understand or appreciate why they do these things... just that they do. I'm not sure if it's a black sense of humour or a complete disconnect from reality...

Then again, this is also the place where you will find a giant buddha hiding behind a lifesize replica of stonehenge... of course.

It's enough to make you need a sit down... .and what better place to do it...

As I said, Takino Reien is a unique place - but very popular in Sapporo. It is one of the things that makes Japan, Japanese - but it's also one of those places that just makes you want to pull your hair out with exasperation. What the....!!!!! Some things are always to remain a mystery.


  1. That is one unique place but looks really interesting. I agree semi are synonymous with summer in Japan and the sound of which reminds me of long hot summers in Japan. Thanks for the memories!!

    Japan Australia

  2. It's a different sort of cemetery, that's for sure. It's actually very large... and sprawls over several hills and valleys. I have long since given up trying to understand their fascination for "historical references"...