Yanaka District - Yanaka, Tokyo, Japan

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November 28th 2008
Published: December 2nd 2008
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In cherry blossom season

Yanaka District - Yanaka, Tokyo, Japan

To the north of Ueno Park is Yanaka district. It is one of the only sections of Tokyo that remained undamaged after the bombing of World War II. I walked to it and wandered down some side streets, stumbling upon the Jyomyoin Temple. On a sign in front of the temple, it said that there were supposedly 84,000 jizos (Shinto god who protects children and travelers) located within the temple grounds. I didn't try to count them all up but there sure were a lot.

I finally made it to Yanaka Cemetery around 1300. Although the cherry blossom trees in the cemetery weren't in bloom, it was still very pleasant as it was in a quiet part of town. There weren't any people around so it was a bit odd/creepy but I snapped a few photos. Below is some information that I pulled off of Wikipedia regarding Yanaka Cemetery:

Yanaka Cemetery (谷中霊園 , Yanaka Reien) is a huge cemetery located north of Ueno in Yanaka 1-chome, Taito, Tokyo, Japan. The Yanaka sector of Taito is one of the few Tokyo neighborhoods in which the old Shitamachi atmosphere can still be felt. The
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In winter months
cemetery is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms that in April completely cover its paths, so much so that its central street is often called Cherry-blossom Avenue.

Although renamed over 72 years ago, the cemetery is still often called with its old official name, Yanaka Graveyard (谷中墓地, Yanaka Bochi). It has a surface of over 100 thousand square meters and hosts about 7 thousand graves. The cemetery has its own police station and a section dedicated to the Tokugawa, family of the 15 Tokugawa shoguns of Japan, which however is closed to the public and must be peeked at from above the surrounding walls. The last shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu, also known as Keiki, rests here.

The cemetery used to be part of a Buddhist temple called Tennō-ji ( 天王寺, Tennō-ji), and its central street used to be the road approaching it. At about the middle point of the central street are the ruins of the five-storied pagoda that became the model for Kōda Rohan's novel "The Five-Storied Pagoda". The pagoda had been a donation made in 1908 by Tenno-ji itself. The five-storied pagoda was burned one summer night in 1957 in the so-called Yanaka Five-Storied Pagoda Double-Suicide Arson Case and was later declared a historical landmark by the city authorities.

After the Meiji Restoration, the government pursued a policy of separation of Buddhism and Shintoism (Shinbutsu Bunri), and Shinto funerals became more common. This posed however a problem because until then most cemeteries had been property of Buddhist temples. The solution adopted was the opening of public burial grounds. In 1872, Meiji authorities confiscated a portion of Tennō-ji and declared it a public Tokyo cemetery, the largest in the country at the time. In 1935 the name was changed from Yanaka Bochi to the present (Yanaka Reien).

More photos: http://s165.photobucket.com/albums/u53/kimdupak/Japan/Tokyo%20-%20Yanaka%20Cemetery/


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