Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery

Yokohama Foreign General CemeteryYokohama foreign general cemetery is located in rural Yokohama. It is a 5~10 min walk from Motomachi-Chukagai station (Minatomirai line) and can be accessed from Shibuya station in 35 min by limited express.  The cemetery was first established in 1859, which was when the port of Yokohama was opened. This was precisely the time when Japan was in the Edo period where the country itself was still isolated from the rest of the world. During the period of territorial expansion by the United States, Matthew C. Perry with his black ship fleet arrived in Japan to sign the treaty of the Convection of Kanagawa in 1984, enabling Japan to open up to the outside world.

Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery2During the Meiji era (Meiji restoration period) Yokohama Port was used as a gateway to the outside world. Ships were entering Japan from all across the world attracting many migrants to the city of Yokohama. This was when western housing started to becoming common in the area and some people even decided to live in Yokohama to start a new life.

The increase in the number of foreigners has pushed for a move in creating a cemetery just for foreigners, due to a difference in culture. (Japan prefers to cremate a body rather than burying the body directly, which is common in Christian and Muslim worlds).

Currently, the cemetery is open to the public on weekend from March thru to December. If you make a donation of around 200~300 yen (all donations will go for preservation fees) entrance will be permitted. A pamphlet will be handed out at the entrance, which will guide you through the cemetery. It is interesting to see Masonic symbols on the gravestones, which shows some status and importance of the people that have visited and lived in Japan back in the 1800’s. A nice historical site to visit!

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