JAPAN | Reveries on Cemeteries | Lakad Pilipinas

Giant Buddha at Shōgen-ji Temple in Hakone, Japan

A large Buddha with a shockingly red bib stands guard near the entrance of the Shōgen-ji Temple in Hakone. Cherry blossoms, wet from the day’s constant rain litter the grounds like delicate pink snowflakes. I carefully wend my way through them, seemingly conscious of stepping into one and destroying something beautiful. I looked up and saw the gnarly branches of the Sakura tree framing the gray white sky. It’s still raining in Japan.

Cemetery at Shōgen-ji Temple in Hakone, JapanStone steps led my soggy shoes up a hill filled with silent grave markers inscribed in Japanese. We were in a hillside cemetery and fog was creeping down from the trees. The silence seemed more solemn as it reached the narrow pathways. There were no tombs here similar to the ones I’m used to seeing back in the Philippines, only small upright grave stones. The Japanese cremate their dead.

Faded Buddha at Shōgen-ji Temple in Hakone, JapanWalking further, I met icons stained by time. Miniature stone Buddhas now habituated by soft moss, sitting cross-legged and eyes closed; oblivious to the world outside this quiet place. Distinctly Japanese sculptures litter the graves, pagoda-shaped stone lamps, wooden paddles burned with Kanji characters. And vased flowers; lots and lots of them. Love and remembrances offered to the dead from the living.

Sakura at Shōgen-ji Temple in Hakone, JapanThe wind whispered and more cherry blossoms fell. Slowly to ground they said their silent velvet prayers and breathed final breaths. I walked on. Climbing and descending through narrow stone stairs, the rain soaking me further every time the clock ticks it minute hands.

The Shōgen-ji Temple in Hakone, JapanI passed one companion and she offered me an umbrella. I smiled, shook my head and said a small thank you. I never minded the rain. I love walking, and I love walking in the rain. It clears my head, cleanses my thoughts.

Cold and dripping, I walked up into the elevated dry wooden floor of the Shōgen-ji Temple. Its geometric lines and clean white walls in stark contrast to the verdant garden reflecting on its glass windows. Warmth.

Japanese Woman at Shōgen-ji Temple in Hakone, JapanFrom afar, I saw a woman. Clad in a purple kimono, playfully twirling her intricate sakura-laden umbrella. And finally reality jarred me from my reverie. For a moment there, I almost forgot that this was a photo trip. That we have a model with us. That this was all sponsored. That it was all commercial and impersonal.
At the Shōgen-ji Temple in Hakone, JapanBut for a brief span of time, I felt Japan as it should be felt. Not as a tourist. Not as a traveler. Not as a photographer. But merely as an observer. A spectator with nothing to take and nothing to gain.


Japan Hakone Location MapShogen-ji Temple
Address: 5 6 2 Yumoto Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Contact Number: (81) 460-85-5638
Open Hours: 9:00AM - 4:00PM


GPS Coordinates: 35.228503,139.099984
View Locations on Google Maps: Click Here









Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Sunday, May 12, 2013

14 comments:

  1. cool photographs. i enjoyed traveling to vicariously traveling to Japan through your photographs and blog. keep it up...

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    1. Thank you Fifi, I'm glad my blog can have that effect to my readers :)

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  2. Beautiful reveries on cemeteries of Japan series... I enjoy seeing the photos and rading the words...

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  3. wow very nice photos! Sana makapunta din ako sa Japan. Hopefully, next year :)

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    1. Thank you Milet, I'm sure you'll enjoy Japan as much as I did :)

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  4. Unguarded photos still amazed me. like of that japanese girl Christian. :-).

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    1. Thank you Bonz, that's actually our model, but I wasn't shooting directly with the photogs for a more candid view

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  5. Ganda talaga ng Japan! I envy how they keep and treasure their Culture. I hope that i can go there someday too!

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    1. I agree, and it's one trait that we Filipino's should consider copying from the Japanese :)

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  6. I really love how much appreciation Japanese put into everthing, even cementery is not an exemption and definitely it's even worth to visit this kind of place during a trip.

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    1. I agree, kahit cemetery lang, maganda pa rin :)

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  7. The snaps are great. Makes me wannna fly to the featured place this very moment!

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