Critical Thinking Session

Why do we keep our family grave?

    For some reason, I've visited three cemeteries in Kanto area in the past few days. The first one is named Yanaka Cemetery, which is located within Yamanote-line circle and known for its size as much as 100 thousand square meters. It hosts about 7 thousand graves, and you can find a lot of famous individuals' graves as you roam across the jungle of tombstones. One of the most known shogun from Tokugawa clan, Yoshinobu Tokugawa's grave is also located here. He is the one who returned the political power and the authority to the Imeprial family at the end of Edo period, and his decision was as great as the decision made by last Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to end Cold War.




    Second cemetery I visited on the same day was Zoshigaya Cemetery. Famous novelist, Soseki Natsume rests here, and one of the characters in his bestseller novel, Kokoro, was also buried in this cemetery.


    Next morning, I walked up the hill that views over Kaneda Bay. Kurihama Cemetery is located on this beautiful slope, and it was located at the highest point of the area just as if those who had already passed deserves the best view in the city.


    It became quite an eye-opening experience for me to visit those three cemeteries. Until then, I didn't have a positive image about a cemetery. In fact, a lot of people have some negative image against grave yards, connected to an idea of death, and some of us believe that those spirits might haunt us. However, walking through those tombstones made me feel relaxed. Unlike those alive that cling to materialistic ideas all the time, they are calm and peaceful. In addition, I was touched by those flowers put around the tombstones. People are all busy with their livings, but there are people who remember them and take care of those graves for the honor of the name encraved. By visiting those cemeteries, I felt the warmth of human hearts that pay respects to their anscestors by letting them dwell in a comfortable home.


    Remembering the past might be as important as living the time being and opening the brand new future.


Writer : David Yasui, Organizer of SoC


1. Do you sometimes visit your family grave? How often and why?


2. Have you ever roamed through a cemetery without a purpose to visit your known person's grave?


3. Why do we take care of those graves even after they're gone? Do you think we need a cemetery?