My Visit to Japan - 7
While I was in Tokyo earlier this year I walked through the Yanaka Cemetery. I was heading for Ueno and then onwards for Fabric Town but the journey became a delightful destination in its own right.
This wasn't a morbid fascination with the dead but rather a glimpse of old Edo and Buddhist traditions. It was a scenic walk with wonderful trees, flowers and wildlife.
A sudden crashing in the trees saw an enormous raven (or crow, I'm not sure) picking up a polysytrene tray of leftover food and taking it to the top of a nearby tree where it proceeded to feast on a free takeaway breakfast. People are going to wonder how the tray got into the top of the tree.
Although there were several guided tours taking place in the cemetery it still retained a tranquil atmosphere and a reverent calm and between the trees it was possible to enjoy the cool shadows as the day's heat built up in the city.
Tokugawa Yoshinobu, also known as Keiki, is buried there. The central path is bordered with cherry trees which would be a fantastic sight when they are in blossom in April - I was too late sadly. The graves have markers, Sotoba 卒塔婆 , pronounced stupa, which are erected shortly after the funeral and show the person's new, posthumous name. These may be added to on anniversaries or at certain memorial services. They appear to remain in place at the tomb and look (sorry for my irreverence) like giant wooden lollysticks but with beautiful calligraphy.
Clock museum shows passage of time | The Japan Times Online