Sunday, August 24, 2008


It was late spring, early summer. I was between spring and summer semesters, and I was bored, so I decided to do a bit of exploring. according to Google maps, there was a big park not too far from my house, which you can see here:

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It's fairly close to my house so I decided to check it out. It looked to only be 3 stops away, but 1 on the Chuo line and two on another line, so I decided I'd walk one stop so I'd only have to get on one train.

After getting to my destination, it was worlds different from my house. The ticket counter was Suica machines AND a guy hand punching tickets.

Suica is a card that I just touch to go through train gates and is to me a symbol of modern life in Tokyo. It's high-tech, convenient, easy to use, and almost everyone has one (or Passmo, which as of 2007 became almost the same thing). But, that combined with someone hand-punching tickets, which is quite opposite. I know people who read this all the time will say I also saw it in Yonezawa, but Yonezawa is way out there. This is 3 stops from my house!

So, I got out of the train station, and I saw a really small and bit morose shopping street.

There were a few restaurants, multiple gravestone shops, and a ton of flower places. It was quite odd. I thought I saw the park, so I went.

But, it turns out this wasn't a park.

It was a really really large graveyard. It was so unbelievably huge.

A couple things to mention... In Japan, people are cremated, so there are no bodies buried here. However, there are memorial stones and graveyards for people, so there's still a marker.

To give you an idea how big this place is, I took some perspective pictures that might help. Do you see the tall tower in the middle of the picture?

Here I'm getting closer.

Here it's quite clear.

It's quite large.

Here. Let's take a look at how this looks on the map:
View Larger Map
Feel free to play around with that map to get an idea of the area of this graveyard, which is all the grey area. It's huge.

It had several normal streets and gravestones were divided like city blocks.

It was also eerie how quiet the whole area was.

Most were small plots, but larger than normal in Japan. One I saw was quite large.

I'm sure it belonged to someone famous. From the looks they were quite the scholar.

I the corner, I saw a little mountain park, so I decided to check it out.

Here's the graveyard from up the mountain a bit.

And zoomed in

This was a really peaceful mountain park. Nothing fancy, not big, not small.

A road ran through it. This looked nothing like my house a few stops away.

You could see the city if you peaked out the trees. It was a healthy reminder of where you actually were.

On the top of the mountain is a little shrine dedicated to the god of the mountain. It wasn't really a high mountain, but there were some other people trekking to the top to pray to the god.

I like this tree, near the shrine.

There were was an older couple taking pictures of these flowers, so I thought I'd join in.

On my way, I saw this:

Wait, are those giant satellite dishes? What's that about?

It sure was. I wanted to check it out. Under normal conditions, if I was with someone else, they'd wisely talk me out of not going there, but I was by myself, so I figured why not.

I couldn't get anywhere near them. Like, not even close.

Apparently this either was or is a military base, I think US base. I'm not sure, though.

While walking around here, I noticed that I was pretty lost. Not lost as in I couldn't find my way home, but I wasn't sure at all where I was. I found a bus stop that lead me to a train station, so I wasn't stranded, so I decided to keep walking.

I met this feller.

He was selling cars. I didn't want a car, so I didn't talk long.

I did eventually find a gorgeous park.

This wasn't even close to the park I meant to find, but it was really nice.

It had lots of interesting artwork and fountains and things to do.

These fountains would sometime shoot water up, drip water down, or just sit there looking interesting. It was marvelous.

There was this lovely little man-made river.

Kids with their scooters were loving it.

There was also some art in the center of the park.

It had a very late 80's early 90's bubble era feel to it. The eye was made in 1991 and the other piece below was early 90's, I think 1994, but I could be wrong.

At any rate, it was a really pretty park.

You can see that it's pretty big too. Not even nearly as big as the cemetery was, though.

I saw another that helped me find a train station.

But what was this in the corner?

Creepy. Oh, and it seems this is part of Fuchu. The walk to the station was quite picturesque.

So, I finally found a train station. Thanks to my phone, I found a route back home. I like this picture because the girl on the right looks really nervous.

It turns out that I changed trains in Tachikawa, which I really enjoyed before so I decided to check it out again.

I took a lot of pictures that didn't look good, but I really had a fun time walking around Tachikawa. I got to see some people filming a show about a restaurant.

I got some other shots of the station. I really like Tachikawa.

There was a giant TV advertising for a 'ramen stadium', which is a bunch of great ramen restaurants together in one place. I was hungry, so it sounded great.

The ramen was a perfect end to a lovely day exploring. Since then I've learned that Tachikawa was practically empty 15 years ago, now it's a huge metropolitan area. When I look back at what I saw I can understand this.

Japan is quite a country. It's both very modern and very old fashioned. It's constantly changing, but some things never change. My opinions on the best parts of Tokyo are always in flux, but for now I really like Tachikawa and I still very much enjoy this country.