Japanese cemeteries are beautiful. They’re quite different to the western cemeteries that I’m definitely used to seeing, and I never really wondered about their significance when I was a child visiting Japan. The scenery of a cemetery here, well, makes death not seem so bad.
It’s not only the scenery, but the amount of thought and respect that is put into each visit – cleansing an ancestor’s grave, lighting an incense stick, leaving cordial gifts; all in remembrance and gratitude of them.
Of course, all graveyards are different, but 勝光院 (shoukouinn), is the name of the beautiful cemetery which has been partly captured below.
If you are to ever come across a cemetery in Japan and wonder why people are cleaning a relative’s grave, lighting an incense stick (御線香 osenko), or are just interested in Japanese culture surrounding cemeteries, this blogpost may be interesting to you.
お墓 (おはか) ohaka– a cemetery
お墓参り (おはかまえり) ohakamairi – the act of visiting a cemetery
「耳をすませば」– more commonly known as Whisper of the Heart, is undoubtably one of my favourite Studio Ghibli films – or films of all time. I urge you to watch it this very moment if you haven’t seen it already.
I found the Cinema Comic book version in a Japanese bookstore today.
Am I being delusional? I asked myself as my eyes landed on the book. I couldn’t believe it.
Having the movie in a tangible format; pictures that I can touch and read over and over to my heart’s content: intimacy only the cordial words and illustrations of a book can offer, is quite honestly, the best thing.
I thought I would do a little series on this blog that may be somewhat helpful to those thinking of travelling to Japan, seeking to learn more about Japanese culture, or eager to learn Japanese!
Next month, I will be travelling to Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara with my friend for roughly two weeks. I will be documenting my travels on this blog, including recommendations and tips which, perhaps, could be useful for any of you plan to travel there! As a photography enthusiast, I will also be sure to post my photographs (taken with my trusty Nikon D7000 and my iPhone 6s).
Apart from that trip, I will be staying in Tokyo until June this year, and so I will be posting regularly (hopefully) on what I get up to!
Feeling slightly nauseated by the swaying metro carriage, I try to soothe my thoughts by listening to Ennio Morricone’s Love Theme over the pounding echo of the train’s movement. The overpowering moan of the wind and sound of small talk envelopes me.
Walking through the all-too-familiar streets of Akasaka, I try not to trip, or bump into a stranger as I type this note. The blurred, overcrowded shop signs overhead are what I see when I look skywards.
I decide to turn into a backroad, sick of the people walking absentmindedly in the street. I walk towards a small shrine and then turn left, and stop. I feel a small burst of elation when I come across a small alleyway which is most probably dismissed and ignored by the many onlookers that pass by.
Biting through rice and some sort of white fish wound with a thread of seaweed, the excruciatingly bitter and painful taste of wasabi crawls through my nose, and lingers.
Wound up in an unusual situation, I sit between two drunk people. Drowning in drunk slurs of attempted conversation, I try not to breathe too heavily – trying to avoid the sickly smell of alcohol and ill-fated conversations.
2016 seems to have arrived unwaveringly, striding through the threshold of time without once looking back. But before beginning this year, I wanted to take time to thank 2015 for all the opportunities and new experiences it has given me; I am very grateful.
What would a new year be without slurs of resolutions and talks of new beginnings? Newly regimented exercise schemes that are never started, aims to study harder never really accomplished – the list goes on.
Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour.
Above is a remark made by Ovid, a long time ago.
Instead of failed resolutions and disappointment, know that some things are destined and some are, well, not. Be patient and content and confident; the course of nature will find its way to you. I have been inspired by Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’, which I am in the process of finishing. It has given me hope – a mere fable, but a story so touching and profound. It has been a great start to the new year.
It’s odd to think that this new year really will mean a new adventure for me. I leave to Japan in early January: the beginning of my true gap year. I look forward to what fate has kindly predestined for me.