One of the goals of my trip to Japan was to visit the Foreigners’ Cemetery in Yokohama. Because I wasn’t sure what the status of the wifi would be in our air b’n’b apartment, I did my research beforehand. I discovered that the cemetery was only open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons between noon and 4. Since we would only be in Japan across one weekend, that was when we’d have to make the trip.
My husband Mason is a firm believer in doing the one thing you really want to do on vacation on the very first day possible. By that logic, we should have gone on Saturday, but we absolutely needed to do laundry. And they predicted rain. And my legs ached from a bad fall in Kyoto the day before.
So we put the trip off until Sunday — and woke to rain. One of my sources said the cemetery would be closed in bad weather, but I hoped a gentle rain wouldn’t be considered bad enough.
I lost that gamble.
All that way to Japan, then the walk to the station in Tokyo, then the train ride to Yokohama, and the hike up the hill to the graveyard: only to find the cemetery paths blocked with chains.
I would have cried, but since none of the cemetery volunteers were in evidence, that wouldn’t have done me much good. Instead, we visited the Tin Toy Museum nearby, which was highly entertaining, and went to a waffle restaurant for lunch.
The cemetery never opened, so we shot what photos we could over the fence.
I really like the photo above, since it shows the variety of monuments in the cemetery. There’s the old mossy green tablet stone, more modern granite monuments (several of which look like books), and the tall upright Japanese square column. I suspect the Westerners received full-body burials with a service performed by a Christian or Jewish authority, while the Japanese were cremated and their ashes interred beneath their monuments by Buddhist priests.
Maybe contrast isn’t the word I want so much as spectrum. I love the cross-cultural spectrum of the Americans, English, Scots, French, Germans, Russians, and Japanese all lying together on the same hillside — and that only includes the languages I read on stones I could see from outside from the walls.
Despite the viciously hungry mosquitoes, the cemetery visit gave me a sense of peace. The cemetery was an oasis away from the frenetic neighborhood where we were staying in Tokyo. I’m disappointed I didn’t get to walk the paths, but without insect repellent, the trip would have been curtailed anyway.
I’ll go back some day — on the first possible day of my trip — but I’ll go back armed with bug spray.
This post was inspired by the WordPress Photo Challenge of the Week: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/contrasts/