Final Hanami with Hachiko at Aoyama Cemetery
Hanami came early to Tokyo this year.
It was April the 1st when we came to Aoyama Cemetery for a final Hanami.
No April joke.
It was already raining flowers and a gorgeous carpet was formed by pink petals.
Hanami was coming to an end.
Aoyama cemetery is pretty crowded during cherry blossom but even when Sakura is taking a seasonal break the place is famous for the (tiny) monument of Hachiko.
Hachiko is Japan’s most known Akita dog who has shown remarkable loyalty to his owner Professor Ueno. Hachiko waited for his owner at Shibuya Station every day at the exact time the train would arrive to greet the professor, even nine years after his master has died.
This basically shows how smart and dutiful dogs can be and… how much Tokyo has evolved. Hachiko was waiting for the professor at the Station from 1924 until 1934 when Shibuya was looking like a small village in the wild west and had more of a prairie than city look.
Fast forward almost 100 years and you will still find sitting and waiting Hachiko… as a statue and a mural (facing famous Shibuya crossing) and there even is a community bus named after him running from Shibuya Station. You might have seen the movie Hachi – A Dog’s Tale starring Richard Gere.
Hachiko’s statue is a popular meeting/picture spot at Shibuya Station. Akita Hachiko dogs are used in advertisements.
Last time we have been walking through Shibuya we found this weird monument. A stuffed white dog with a princess crown on its head. Every year there is a ceremony to honour faithful Hachiko but I am not sure what this was all about.
This little bugger sort of resembled the Hachiko monument.
The website to this exhibition is bit.ly/hachiko20 but it’s all in Japanese. If you can figure out its meaning, please let me know.
Nowadays, there is seriously no room for free running dogs, or dogs at all as a mater of fact. Skyscrapers, huge intersections and futuristic train tracks running through the district. Shibuya Station has turned into Tokyo’s central entertainment and shopping area.
So we decided to spent our time at a more serene place, the Aoyama cemetery (what a smooth transition to the next paragraph). While enjoying a last Hanami we were looking for Hachiko’s monument right next to his owner’s grave.
HOW TO FIND HACHIKO AT AOYAMA CEMETERY
The grave is tricky to find and is located at the very end of the pictured path, numbered 6/12.
At the end of the path you will find Professor Ueno’s grave behind a bamboo fence.
And Hachiko’s tiny monument is right next to Professor Ueno’s grave.
Hachiko is actually not buried here but his stuffed remains are displayed at the National Science Museum in Ueno.
Apart from Hachiko, Aoyama cemetery is a beautiful place to take in nature’s treasures and a break from the bustling city.
HOW TO GET TO AOYAMA CEMETERY
Get off at Gaienmae Station (Ginza line) exit 1B and walk for about 10 minutes or take a 15 minute walk from Nogizaka station (Chiyoda line). Location: ２丁目-３２-２ Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo.
A lot of gorgeous Sakura trees framed the graves on this wonderful first day in April.
It was like wandering through a peaceful Buddhist temple.
Sakura bathtub for tiny creatures.
Traces of spring on the ground hiding behind sotoba, a Japanese wooden board on a stand behind or next to the grave with the written name of the deceased.
A typical Japanese grave is usually a family grave. It typically consists of a stone monument with a chamber underneath for the ashes. There will be a place for flowers, incense and water in front of the grave.
An interesting feature of some graves: the business card box. Friends and relatives can drop their business card as a sign of respect the visitor has paid to the deceased.
There is a big memorial stone to the missing crew of the Japanese Unebi cruiser. In 1886 Unebi disappeared in the South China Sea between Singapore and Yokohama. No survivors, no bodies, nor wreckage were ever found.
I like this cemetery because in its Japnese perfection it remains to be very natural. You can spot fallen stones, overgrown graves and nature’s attempt to claim back its place and the consequences of common earthquakes.
If you can afford an open air funeral plot at the cemetery you are well off. The budget alternative are locker sized graves kept in underground vaults at grave-apartment-buildings, with the cremation ceremony held on site as well. Space is luxury in a crowded future.
Walking around Aoyama was pure luxury with its lush flora and beautiful bloom.
Hanami for all souls.
Alice in Wonderland would have liked this. So do I! The rose tree looks unreal.
Oh, there we go, Dasza in Aoyama Wonderland.
Sakura on the trunk.
Sakura all around.
Hanami is addictive.
You should see the blooming feast at Japan’s most beautiful garden to get hooked on flower viewing for good.
Candy for the eyes.
I am quite positive you can eat those.
This spot was magic. The white and pink trees were dancing together in the wind.
More white beauties.
And their pink siblings.
It was going to be their last days of bloom.
The cemetery road lined with blooming cherry trees. What a view the drivers must have.
A path lined with cherry trees for pedestrians. Hanami is for everyone.
We spent about two hours at the cemetery which went by in a whisk.
Time flies and so did the petals swirling in the air. Can you see them? Sakura was raining down on us.
Bye bye Sakura!
What? No? You want more Sakura… How about the very best places for Hanami in Tokyo. Enjoy!
Meanwhile we got to go home. See you!