Dear dark tourist, these are Asia’s most beautiful cemeteries
DEATH is understandably scary and feared around the world.
But cemeteries and places of burial don’t have to resemble the gloom that looms over the end of someone’s life.
These cemeteries across Asia reflect the cultures of their nations.
They also lure people in with their natural beauty, colorful flowers, ornate tombstones with snippets of history on them, and spellbinding stories of lives well lived.
Not all cemeteries have all these attributes though. Some are vibrant in flora and birdsong while others are more haunting.
But all share one common theme: Everyone who takes permanent residence in them has passed away.
So with respect, decorum, and an admiration for the human psyche, here are Asia’s most beautiful and intriguing cemeteries.
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
The Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is dedicated to the prisoners of World War II who were kept captive in Thailand under its Japanese occupation and forced into hard labor to build roads and railways.
It is the final resting place for many Australian, British, and Dutch soldiers while the remains of the American prisoners of war were repatriated back to the US.
The symmetry in the graveyard combined with the immaculate upkeep of the site makes it a beautiful place to learn about war history and contemplate the atrocities committed here.
Okunoin, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
Okunoin is often referred to as one of the most spiritual places in Japan.
It is Japan’s largest graveyard with over 200,000 tombstones that line nearly two kilometers of pathways.
Kukai, a grandmaster of Buddhism who lived between 774 and 835, is also believed to be resting here in a central mausoleum.
The cemetery is located in a 1,200-year-old forest filled with fir and pine trees. The sunlight beams between the tree trunks and on the graves of 200,000 monks who are all waiting to be resurrected by the Future Buddha.
Yanaka Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan
Yanaka Cemetery used to be part of a Buddhist temple called Tenno-ji and sits in the Taito section of Tokyo.
It is famous for its cherry blossom trees which cover pathways and graves in April every year.
It’s also known for being the burial site of the last Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu who was unsuccessful in his military leadership in Japan in the late 19th century.
Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
Once upon a time, acres of olives trees filled this cemetery, giving it its enchanting name.
Mount of Olives is located in one the holiest cities in the world, Jeruselum.
Located on the West Bank next to the Old City, this mountain is sacred to three regions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. However, only Jewish people are buried here.
It is the oldest and one of the most significant Jewish cemeteries in the world with over 70,000 graves.
The Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Luzon, Philippines
Members of the Igorot tribe of the mountain province on the northern Philippines have practiced the tradition of hanging coffins, containing their dead relatives, on a cliff near the town of Sagada.
It is believed to deliver the dead quicker and elevate them closer to ancestral spirits.
The coffins are mostly handcrafted by locals and embellished with crosses, and the smaller ones aren’t children or babies.
The Igorot tribe believe you should leave the world the way you came out – in the fetal position.
Historically, families would break the bones of their dead to fit them in the coffins, but this tradition is slowly being phased out.