Not far from the mound of ears is a large temple complex that most tourists to the city give a miss. Chishaku-in is a Buddhist temple that features some nice small gardens, but I have yet to find a single reference to the large cemetery that lies at the very back of the complex. Of course, since death rituals are usually Buddhist in nature in Japan, many older temples often have a cemetery attached to it. But with modernization and lack of space, usually the cemeteries are in a separate location. In my own neighbourhood, there is a cemetery sandwiched between the back of a supermarket and its adjacent parking lot. I always feel a little sad for the people laid to rest there, it seems so ignoble to be crammed against the backside of a grocery store while people go about their daily business.

Anyway, I didn’t approach the cemetery the usual way. I went around the back way, as it was unclear from the maps whether or not one could access the cemetery from the temple. The cemetery is located on the side of a hill, which amounted to climbing a few flights of stairs.

Most of the gravestones are of the classic square pillar found virtually in every cemetery across the country. However, there were a few statues surrounded by a set of identical markers, however I have not been able to find any information on who they are or what their achievements were.

Overall it was an interesting place to walk around, and I even got to see the temple grounds once I found the proper entrance to the cemetery (see featured image).

Quality of Monuments: As noted, most monuments are of the standard rectangular block variety. There are a few statues.

Cemetery Grounds: It’s a mid-sized cemetery, in Japanese terms, located on a hillside. If you have mobility issues there is no way to access the cemetery as it is all stairs.

Visitors: None while I was there. There were a few people in the temple complex, but none seemed to wander in the cemetery itself.

Photographer Notes:


Cemetery: Jizoyama Cemetery

Location: The back side of Chishaku-in Temple, Imagumano Hiyoshicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0925. From Kyoto Station bus 206 will get you here (other buses include 207 and 208).

Established: Temple was established in 1598 (after being moved here from Koyasan).

Notable Internments: unknown

Hours: Entrance to the cemetery from the back side seems to be open 24 hours a day, otherwise to see the part that’s within the temple you are limited to its opening hours (9-16).