The Aoyama Cemetery (青山霊園, Aoyama Reien) is located in central Tokyo, very close to Roppongi. It’s huge (263,000 squared meters according to Wikipedia), and it is completely open to the public at all times. It was founded in 1872 and it is Japan’s first public cemetery.
It has a foreign plot (外人墓地, gaijin bochi) near the center where many foreigners and their descendants are buried, but the most popular grave is Hidesaburo Ueno’s, owner of Hachiko. I’m sure you’ve heard his story already, but in case you haven’t, here’s a short summary:
Hidesaburo Ueno was a professor in the Tokyo Imperial University in the early 1900s. In 1924 he adopted Hachiko, an Akita dog, as his pet. Every morning on the way to work they walked together to the Shibuya station, and every evening Hachiko went to the station to wait for Professor Ueno’s return from work.
They continued this routine daily until May 1925, when the Professor didn’t return. He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. For the next nine years, Hachiko kept coming to the same spot every day to wait for Ueno’s return, until he too died on March 8th, 1935, aged 11.
There’s a bronze statue of Hachiko in the spot where he waited every evening. This is without doubt the most popular meeting spot in Tokyo.
Hachiko is not actually buried in the Aoyama Graveyard (his stuffed remains are exhibited in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno), but there’s a small shrine dedicated to Hachiko inside the plot of Professor Ueno’s grave, and also a commemoratory pylon just outside the plot.
In late December 2013 I moved to a new apartment just a few minutes walking from the graveyard. Having nothing to do during New Year, I took my camera and went for a walk in the afternoon.
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