Beautiful Tombstones at Tama Cemetery

Fuchu City, Tokyo is a great place to live and die. Well, actually, be buried after you die. Fuchu has the lowest tax among all the wards and cities in Tokyo Metropolitan because of it’s industry and the Fuchu Horse Race Track, and it’s also home to Tama Cemetery or Tamarein in Japanese.

Tama Cemetery is the final resting place for the Japanese upper crust including notable figures such as Japanese writer, Yukio Mishima, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Machiko Hasegawa (creator of Sazae-san animation), and Inejiro Asanuma, the head of the Japanese Socialist Party. Here are two lists of other famous Tama Cemetery residents: list 1, list 2.

Tama Cemetery is a bit of an odd place because it’s a wide and quiet and has a comfortable park-like atmosphere. Because of this, you will often find napping salarymen in their parked cars, groups of mothers and children having a picnic, or joggers running their course. I guess it’s always cool to chill with the rich and famous.

What attracts me to Tama Cemetery are the beautifully crafted tombstones. Despite their dark and grim symbol, many of the headstones are amazing and look more like museum art pieces which really do celebrate the lives of the departed. Wandering through the cemetery is more like a stroll through a gallery. Some of the headstones look like they were just excavated from a archaeological ruin, while some look like Noguchi pieces. No wonder some people like to hang out there to relax.

Speaking of chilling in cemeteries, check this story on Vice.com by Tokyo-based photographer, Bahag, about families in Manila actually LIVING in cemeteries.

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Disclaimer: by uploading these pictures on this blog, I do not mean to disrespect the departed or their loved ones. My aim is simply to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of the tombstones; nothing more, or nothing less.

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2 thoughts on “Beautiful Tombstones at Tama Cemetery

  1. This is a very cool-looking spot, thanks for sharing it.
    I love Japanese graveyards, they have such an inviting, tranquil feeling. Nothing like the underlying grim spookiness of most Western graveyards.

    I haven’t quite worked out exactly why. But I think it’s a combination of the geometric arrangement, the multi-levelled density, the variety of forms you’ve shown here. And of course the fact that they’re generally so clean and well-maintained. For care and attention, I’ve never seen better than this:
    http://japangasm.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/is-this-the-most-beautiful-grave-in-japan/

    My local is Yanaka Reien. At night time it’s particularly lovely.
    http://japangasm.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/sakura-iv-a-night-walk-in-the-graveyard/

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog as you add to it.

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