Ohigan, the week of equinox ~the period to visit family grave~

by NORIKO - Japan Licensed Guide
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March 21st is spring  equinox day and the week centering   spring  or autum equinox day is called 'Ohigan' (this year, Mar.18 to 24 and Sep.20 to 26) .  During the week, many Japanese visit their family graves, clean the grave, offer flowers and incence sticks.  On equinox day,  it is said  that the distance between 'this world' and 'that world'  becomes closest.  So we visit graves and pray for the happiness of the dead in that world.  In Japan bodies are cremated and the remains are put in a white ceramic box which is placed in a space under a grave where boxes of generations are also placed.   Ohigan, the week of equinox ~the period to visit family grave~To buy a grave in central Tokyo is very expensive because the  price of a grave is almost the same as the price of the land.  For example, in Aoyama public cemetery, which is located in Minato ward (near Roppongi), 2 square meters grave costs about 7million yen including the construction cost of a stone grave.  Other than public cemeteries,  we can buy graves in the ground of Buddhism temples.  Usually  they are more expensive. 

The picture below is our family grave in Tama public cemetery

Ohigan, the week of equinox ~the period to visit family grave~

Recently, graves of new style have got popularity among people living in big cities; Graves in  buildings.  Inside a building, alters or small graves are placed.  People visit there without bothering to clean a grave or to pray for the dead standing in a bad weather.  Buddhism temples in big cities have started to construct such fascilities in their grounds.   Even in central Tokyo, it costs around 1 million yen.  Ohigan, the week of equinox ~the period to visit family grave~

In Tokyo, there are a lot of  public cemeteries such as Yanaka, Aoyama, Tama, Kodaira, Hachioji, and Hacchu.  People visit there to enjoy walking or finding graves of famous people.   I made a tour to visit Aoyama cemetery which I believe will offer a unique experience to you.  If you are interested in , please click here.  

Thank you for reading.

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15 Mar 2019


Licensed Guide
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