Foreign cemeteries in Japan

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Foreigners' cemetery in Hakodate

The foreign cemeteries (外国人墓地 gaikokujin bochi?) in Japan are chiefly located in Tokyo and at the former treaty ports of Kobe, Hakodate, Nagasaki and Yokohama. They contain the mortal remains of long-term Japan residents or other foreigners who died in Japan, and are separate from any of the military cemeteries.


The Hakodate Foreign Cemetery, located in the Motomachi district, is just below Mt. Hakodate and over the coastal beach. The cemetery is divided into national and cultural sections; different local associations are responsible for the maintenance of each section. All graves face the ocean. They include the graves of two mariners from the fleet of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry.


Kobe municipal foreign cemetery

Kobe originally had two foreign cemeteries. One, Onohama, located in the foreign settlement, the other located in Kasugano.

In the early 1950s, the Kobe City Government began relocating all foreigners’ graves to a new Foreigners’ Cemetery, the Kobe Municipal Foreign Cemetery (神戸市立外国人墓地), in Futatabi Park in the hills high above the city. This was completed in 1962.

Mount Futatabi, in a pleasant woodland location, has the graves of many long-term residents, including Alexander Cameron Sim. James Joseph Enslie a long serving British Consular Officer in Kobe has a large grave in the cemetery.

George French, the Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Japan was buried in Onohama in 1881.


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 1860s 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.[1]


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


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[2] has recently been formed to campaign to preserve the foreign part of the cemetery.


The foreigner cemetery in Yokohama

The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery, located in Yamate 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, Ludovicus Stornebrink and John Carey Hall. The French military advisors of the Boshin War, François Bouffier, Jean Marlin, and Auguste Pradier are also buried there.

First established in 1859 soon after the opening of the Port of Yokohama. The current cemetery consists of 22 sections in an area of 5,600 tsubos, or 18,500 meters. In 1864 a memorandum for the foreign settlement at Yokohama was signed by the Bakumatsu with the legations of the main trading nations permitting the extension of the cemetery area to the top of the Bluff opposite the Anglican, Christ Church. [3]

Photos of a number of graves the cemetery may be seen by clicking here

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 [2] 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 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, Australia/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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tales of the Nagasaki International Cemeteries
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Brief History of the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery". The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery. YFGC Official Site. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 

External links[edit]