Japan Tokyo Yanaka

Yanaka Cemetery

A final resting place amidst Tokyo’s cherry blossoms, home to the legacy of the Tokugawa shoguns

Photo of Yanaka Cemetery, Japan (Tokyo - Yanaka 050 - Yanaka Cemetery by Joe Mabel)

Yanaka Cemetery, established in the historic Shitamachi district of Tokyo, is a metropolitan expanse that offers a blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty. Spanning just over 10 hectares, this cemetery is not only a place of repose for the departed but also an archive of Japan’s history, with graves of notable figures, including the Tokugawa clan’s last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, and distinguished artists.

About Yanaka Cemetery

Yanaka Cemetery, or Yanaka Reien, is a reminder of Tokyo’s past, located in the Yanaka neighborhood of Taito Ward. Established by the Meiji government, the cemetery was opened in response to the separation of Shinto and Buddhism, creating a need for non-temple-affiliated burial sites. Transforming parts of Tennō-ji, a Buddhist temple, Yanaka Cemetery became a public cemetery in 1872.

Housing approximately 7,000 graves, Yanaka Cemetery is the final resting place for many of Japan’s historical figures, including Ichiro Hatoyama, a former Prime Minister, Yokoyama Taikan, an esteemed artist, and industrialist Eiichi Shibusawa. A dedicated area for the Tokugawa clan, including the gravesite of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last shogun, is located here, symbolizing their enduring legacy.

The cemetery is divided into sections, reflecting diverse architectural styles and epochs. Its Central Avenue was once the approach route to Tennō-ji and is now known for its flower shops. Despite earlier redevelopment plans that led to relocations of unclaimed graves and tree felling, Yanaka Cemetery remains a cherished space for hanami, the traditional cherry blossom viewing, and honoring the past.

Visitors can admire the cherry blossoms of Sakura-dori, also known as Cherry-blossom Avenue, where the blooms form a canopy each spring. The cemetery’s connection to literature is marked by the site of a five-storied pagoda, which inspired Kōda Rohan’s novel “The Five-Storied Pagoda,” now commemorated as a historical landmark after its destruction in 1957.

Yanaka Cemetery is a place for reflection, allowing visitors to connect with the stories of those who shaped Japan’s history. The surrounding area, including Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street and Nezu Jinja Shrine, offers a traditional Tokyo atmosphere. The local feline residents add charm to this historical site.

Visitors are encouraged to wander through the grounds, discovering stories etched into gravestones and appreciating the natural setting that contrasts with Tokyo’s urban landscape. The cemetery’s history, coupled with its natural beauty during cherry blossom season, marks it as a place of significance.

Getting There the easiest way to reach Yanaka Cemetery

JY 07

 JR Yamanote Line + 1 more

 about 5 minute walk (400m)

Around Yanaka Cemetery

Yanaka Cemetery

Park in Tokyo

open 8:30am - 5pm
closed Irregularly


谷中霊園, 東京

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Updated 13 Mar 2024 • Report an error

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