Grave Thoughts

Guess what this is? It’s a Japanese cemetery. Pretty, huh?

When I was in , to go to the train station (eki) from our hotel, we had to pass by this cemetery. At first I thought it was a shrine. I’d never seen anything like it.

I took this picture one chilly morning on my way to the university (daigaku). I always wanted to go inside because it looked so serene and peaceful, not scary at all. But I never did have time, and I didn’t know if it was even allowed.

This is a crowded cemetery. In Japan, they cremate their dead so what lies in their cemetery are only ashes and urns, no bodies, so they can fit a lot of headstones in small spaces. The place is very well-kept. Some mornings I see old men lovingly cleaning headstones. It always made me feel sad.

In contrast, let me show you the cemeteries here in the Philippines. This one is the San Roque Cemetery in City. It’s very pretty, and although it’s quite crowded already (I’m not sure if they still allow people to be buried there or not) they’ve managed to keep it spacious for the live ones. Hehe.

Since there’s no cremation here, each plot of land has to fit one coffin. People usually buy plots of land in advance, because money is scarce and you never know when you’re gonna die. I know, that’s a morbid thought, but really, it’s true. Hehe.

Sometimes, families buy a big plot of land so that all the members of their family can be housed there when they die. And sometimes it’s a gated plot of land with the name of the family emblazoned on the wall. And sometimes it’s an actual building, and it’s called a mausoleum.

And sometimes, in the poor parts of town, the public cemeteries are so full already that graves are built on top of other graves. So the coffins are no longer six feet under the ground, but on top of the ground, inside a box made of cement. And sometimes graves are lost because too many have been built around it or above it.

There’s one famous cemetery in Zamboanga (but I’ve never seen it) that’s called a floating cemetery. It was built near the shore, but due to erosion and time, the shore started sinking and so did the cemetery. So sometimes when the tide is high, they say the graves float — thus, a floating cemetery.

I hope someday I’ll be able to see it. :-)


  1. i love this post! eerie yet interesting.. you got me interested with the floating cemetery (wish I could see that too!)

    this reminded me of a cemetery in our home province. lol! one family there even hire videographers during all soul’s day celebrations..weird i think!

    keep it up! you have an awesome blog!

  2. I know, All Souls’ Day is also a great big holiday at home. One popular private cemetery in our hometown holds a three-day celebration – starting from Halloween!

    Food concessionaires are invited, parties and variety shows are held in the park, there are singing/dancing/mask contests and the plots have tents over them with the families bringing lots of food and staying overnight.

    I wonder if we’re the only country that does that??? Hehehe.