stone and dust

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



Site 53: Kyoto’s Mimizuka (The Ear Mound)

When most people think of Kyoto, they probably imagine old temples and shrines, maiko and geiko walking in the streets of Gion, the soft rustle of bamboo…and…a mound full of severed noses? Welcome to Kyoto folks! You’ve just discovered Kyoto’s Mimizuka, also known as the ear mound. Continue reading “Site 53: Kyoto’s Mimizuka (The Ear Mound)”

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 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”

Site 26: Tokyo’s Yanaka Cemetery

This is another one of the big cemeteries that are dotted around Tokyo. After a very short walk from the train station I was in land of stone and trees. And cats. Some of the most beautiful, friendly, and well-fed cemetery cats I have ever seen Continue reading “Site 26: Tokyo’s Yanaka Cemetery”

Site 25: Tokyo’s Zoshigaya Cemetery

There’s something familiar about visiting a cemetery, no matter what culture, city, or country you’re from. The quiet. The trees. The stone memorials that mark the final resting place of the departed. The people that you see tend to be of the greying set. Continue reading “Site 25: Tokyo’s Zoshigaya Cemetery”

Site 24: Omori’s Rakanji Temple

If you want to really get off the beaten track in Japan, then the places to visit are usually the ones that don’t (or just barely) warrant a mention in guidebooks. Generally speaking, if you’ve never heard of the place Continue reading “Site 24: Omori’s Rakanji Temple”

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