Locations: Japan. Nagasaki

Teramachi Cemetery

Winter 2017

Teramachi cemetery covers a forested hillside facing west in the city of Nagasaki. The graveyard dates back to the first half of the 17th century. I happened to visit it with my family and we spent a whole day there. It was drizzling and there was no wind. The silence let the slightest sounds of leaves and small branches under our feet travel far. Teramachi cemetery is like a huge maze that starts at the foot of the hill by the twirling street and quietly climbs up the slope. We fortuitously took the path to the cemetery from the courtyard of a former temple, that had been converted into a daycare center. The toys of the kindergarten were suddenly replaced by tombstones. This might be unbefitting for Europeans but common for the Japanese. The lower graves were well maintained and tidy but rising up the maze, the thicket becomes denser and turns into a subtropical copse that embraces a city of tombs. I was so excited by the dense and spatial landscape that I returned the next day to the cemetery at the sunset. I was so engaged in taking photos that I did not notice that the night had fallen. Eventually, as it was totally dark, I sat down for a rest on a stairhead. Suddenly, as I've been a nyctophobe since I was a kid, I realized that I am in a deserted graveyard in the middle of a night. The way home was fast as it went mostly downhill.

© Ott Kadarik