December 10, 2013

Okunoin: The Largest Cemetery in Japan, Part 1

Rounding the corner to Okunoin, Japan's largest cemetery.

The masoleum of Kobo Daishi (perhaps more well-known as Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism is here. (Kukai died in 835.) The 200,000 other tombstones were buried there, close to Kobo Daishi, so as they might be able to receive salvation.

At the start of the cemetery is a memorial for all the young men who fought and died in World War II.

The memorial reads something like:
The cherry blossoms that fall
And those that remain
Fall anyway

Okunoin is full of the graves of those who were killed during wars, including famous 16th-century feudal lords that I learned about in history class. Above is a pagoda erected for those who fought in Burma during the War. 

There is a two-kilometer walk to get to the main temple grounds. The air in early morning was positively freezing, but the sun cut through the mist and gave the area an otherworldly air.

The area furthest away from the temple had the oldest graves, and hence, the oldest and largest trees.

Sanskrit lettering etched into the stone.

It would take virtually forever to see every one of the graves, since the path breaks off into so many different directions.

The (dare I say?) fun starts when you start noticing company plots, taken by the largest corporations in Japan. This is for sweets manufacturing giant Glico.

Kirin Beer's plot features the kirin, a mythological animal.

 This manufacturing company has a rocket ship on their grave site...

...and my personal favorite, the Japan Termite Control Organization. The message reads, "Termites rest in peace."

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