I hope your memorial day went well dear US readers, and your normal, not long weekend non-US readers.
After a brief stop for lunch, courtesy of another 24/7 style establishment I decided to visit a pagoda in the hills surrounding Kyoto, but to get to that pagoda I had to venture through one of Japan’s oldest, and biggest graveyards.
I don’t have much against graveyards. Many people see them as scary or morbid. Some have a deep fascination with them. I grew up with ghost stories, yet I find nothing but serenity in the rituals pertaining the dead. Graveyards evoke rest, not restlessness to me. Nonetheless, the sheer scope of this particular burial ground was breathtaking, even more so, when you postulate that many of these graves were family graves, with several generations of families being buried all in the same plot.
What was perhaps the most curious was the direct contact people had with the burial ground. Houses like the one in the picture above lined the sides of the road and protruded into the grounds. I wonder what life would be like growing up so close to the dead. Would the person be immune to the fear of death? Reminded to live each day fully? Simply scared all the time? I had no idea, and my mind wandered.
By chance, I visited this very touristy place on a school field trip and snapped a few shots of the students, who did something many of their adult counterparts did not, they acknowledged my existence.
Behind me, as I came in off a back path, was a street lined with souvenirs, and replicas, but I set my eyes forward, I had a duty to perform.
I took a picture of this place because it was here I had a nearly religious experience in self-reliance. Within the temple above is a small passage that led into complete darkness, the passage can only be navigated by walking through the dark with your hand on a rail. It is stifling, claustrophobic, and not something I would do again. With that said I knew that if I panicked I would cause a problem, the people behind me couldn’t see me, and so I drove ahead despite every bone in my body telling me to head back. I emerged into the light, relieved and yet proud that I’d kept going.