Nagasaki is well-known for the number of foreign nationals that traded, worked, and lived there over the centuries. In the Meiji era especially, a large foreign population lived in the Dejima and Oura neighbourhoods. The Oura Catholic Church is the oldest church in Japan (and a national monument), it lies very close to Glover Garden, which was once home to Thomas B. Glover, a Scottish merchant who helped modernize Japan. Oura Cemetery, on the other hand, is about a 10-minute walk from the church through narrow alleys in neighbourhoods that line the slopes in this area. Based on its location, I thought it would be a much larger cemetery, but (the Western section) is quite small, on a narrow strip of land on a small hill. A larger, more modern Japanese cemetery surrounds it.

Many of the headstones here are in rough shape, and the inscriptions have either completely fallen down, or are illegible due to lichen, moss, and/or the elements. There are quite a number of simple crosses, or headstones with simple inscriptions. There was one statue up  on a high pedestal. Like the other international cemeteries here in Nagasaki, there was a range of nationalities and languages represented. It didn’t take too long to explore. While I was glad I went, I would definitely say that if you had to skip one of the international cemeteries in Nagasaki, this would be it.

Monuments: Not many here, mostly simple headstones.

Grounds: There are three tiers that run horizontally across the slope. There are paths to walk on, but the ground is level enough to see all the graves. The gate to the main entrance was closed when I got there, but it was easy to untie the cord to open the gate.

Visitors: none while I was here

Photographer notes: none really, there wasn’t much here to see or photograph


Cemetery: Oura International Cemetery

Established: 1861, closed in 1888

Internments: Unknown, but it looked like less than 100 to me

Location: About a 10 minute walk south of Oura Catholic Church (or Ishibashi tram stop). If you stay on the main road from the tram stop, there will be signs pointing you in the right direction. If going from the church, Google maps will be your friend to navigate the interesting back streets.

Hours: 08:00-18:00 daily