stone and dust

travel, photography and musings on cemeteries, memorials, and other dark sites


March 2016

Site 33: Nikko’s Self-Immolation Cemetery

There is something about moss in the rain, the green is so luminescent, the air that surrounds it is practically breathing, that it makes one forget the frenetic pace of life in the concrete and steel cities of Japan. So it was as I made my way to Nikko, Continue reading “Site 33: Nikko’s Self-Immolation Cemetery”

Site 32: Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Mausoleum

The shrines and temples of Nikko are classified as a World Heritage Site, and the star among them is the magnificent shrine of Tōshō-gū. It is here that the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu, is buried. The shrine itself is famous for it’s magnificent Continue reading “Site 32: Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Mausoleum”

Site 31: Yokohama’s Foreign General Cemetery

Other than the magnificent cemetery of Okunoin at Koya-san, the only other cemetery that I knew I wanted to visit in Japan was Yokohama’s Foreign General Cemetery. This cemetery’s history in intimately connected to the opening of Continue reading “Site 31: Yokohama’s Foreign General Cemetery”

Site 30: The Byakkotai Cemetery on Iimoriyama

In the late 1860s there was a massive civil war in Japan, called the Boshin War, in which supporters of the Shogunate (military commanders who effectively ruled Japan, and had, up to that point, had had an isolationist policy) and the supporters of Continue reading “Site 30: The Byakkotai Cemetery on Iimoriyama”

Site 28: Tokyo’s Aoyama Reien

One of Tokyo’s most famous cemeteries is Aoyama Reien, located near Roppongi/Harajuku, is known for many things: it’s large, it has a lot of flowering cherry trees in spring, and it was the first cemetery where foreigners could be laid to Continue reading “Site 28: Tokyo’s Aoyama Reien”

Site 27: The graves of the 47 Ronin

The 47 ronin, or masterless samurai, is probably one of the most well-known historical stories that comes from Japan. That said, whenever I mention the 47 ronin to my students, they have no idea who I’m talking about, as in Japanese they are Continue reading “Site 27: The graves of the 47 Ronin”

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