Foreign cemeteries in Japan

Foreign cemeteries in Japan

The foreign cemeteries (gaijin bochi 外人墓地) in Japan are chiefly located in Tokyo and at the former treaty ports of Nagasaki, Kobe, Yokohama, and Hakodate. They contain the mortal remains of long-term Japan residents, and are separate from any of the military cemeteries.


The Tokyo foreign cemetery is a section of the Aoyama Reien municipal cemetery in Aoyama, Tokyo. By 2005 it was under threat from the city's bureaucracy, planning to make a park on the site and posted "Kanpo" notices in front of endangered graves for which fees have not been paid by families of the deceased. These notices expired at the end of September 2005 - after which the graves may be removed and reburied elsewhere.

According to the cemetery's rules, if a plot's 590 yen per square metre annual fee is unpaid for five years, a notice goes up and the plot will be razed one year later. 78 plots in Aoyama Reien were flagged on October 1, 2004 and many of them are in the foreign section. They were therefore at risk of removal after September 30, 2005.

These are the graves of expatriates from the Meiji era, men and women who promoted Western ideas and practices in Japan—doctors, educators, missionaries, and artists. Many of them were o-yatoi gaikokujin.

Famous non-Japanese buried at Aoyama Reien include the British minister plenipotentiary Hugh Fraser who died in the post in 1894, Captain Francis Brinkley, Guido Verbeck, Henry Spencer Palmer, Edoardo Chiossone, Joseph Heco, Edwin Dun, Mary True and several others.

The Foreign Section Trust [] has recently been formed to campaign to preserve the foreign part of the cemetery.


Nagasaki has three main international cemeteries: 1) Inasa International Cemetery, which is the oldest foreign cemetery in Japan and consists of separate plots for Chinese, Dutch and Russian people; 2) Oura International Cemetery, which was established in the early 1860's near the site of the Nagasaki Foreign Settlement and served the foreign community until being closed in 1888; and 3) Sakamoto International Cemetery, which has some 440 graves including that of Scottish merchant Thomas Blake Glover.

Tales of the Nagasaki International Cemeteries [] .


The Kobe cemetery is on Mount Futatabi in a pleasant woodland location and has the graves of many long-term residents, including Alexander Cameron Sim.


The Yokohama cemetery, located in Naka ward, includes among many others the grave of Charles Lennox Richardson, murdered in the Namamugi Incident in September 1862, John Wilson, and that of Charles Wirgman and Ludovicus Stornebrink. The French military advisors of the Boshin War, François Bouffier, Jean Marlin, and Auguste Pradier are also buried there.

On the weekends of the Spring, Summer and Fall (from noon to 4:00 p.m.), the cemetery is opened up to the public for a small donation to help with the upkeep of the premises. Visitors will get a small pamphlet showing graves of interest, and they can also view the museum at the site. These events are organized by the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery Foundation [] which is responsible for the upkeep and general maintenance of the cemetery, considered a very important historic spot in Yokohama.

The Yokohama Cemetery has undergone recent revisions inspired by a generous bequest by Seiji Ozawa, whose parents-in-law are buried there.

There is another section of the near Yamate station on the Keihintouhoku line, called "Negishi Foreign Cemetery". It was established in 1880, but first used in 1902. Many of the 1923 Kantou Earthquake victims were buried there.

Yokohama is also home to a war cemetery and monument housing British and Commonwealth war dead. The war graves themselves are split up according to nationality with sections for British, Australian & New Zealand as well as Indian graves.

Yokohama also has a Chinese cemetery near Negishi Park, called "Nanjing Cemetery". It was used to store the remains of Chinese from China town before being sent back to the mainland.


The Hakodate cemetery includes the grave of a mariner from the fleet of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry.


There is a foreign cemetery in Naha, Okinawa. The earliest graves are of Chinese sailors. Several contempories of Matthew C. Perry are buried there.

ee also

*o-yatoi gaikokujin
*Heads of the United Kingdom Mission in Japan
*Anglo-Japanese relations
*Franco-Japanese relations

External links

* [ The Foreign Section Trust] - formed in 2005 to preserve the foreign section of Aoyama cemetery in Tokyo.
* [ Tales of the Nagasaki International Cemeteries]
* [ Tokyo scraps eviction policy for tombs of foreigners in Japan] - Asahi Shimbun, October 20, 2005

* [ The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery Foundation] - Foundation formed in 1900 to maintain the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery

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