Sunday, December 5, 2010

the japanese cemetery park

the japanese cemetery park has been around since the 19th century, long before the japanese invaded singapore. it was gazetted as a memorial park in 1987.

'japanese brothel owner tagajiro fukaki donated 7 acres of his rubber plantation at chuan hoe avenue, off yio chu kang road, to be used as a burial ground for young japanese women who died in destitution. the british colonial government granted permission for this use on 26 june 1891. since then, it was used to bury japanese residents. during world war ii, the cemetery was used to bury japanese civilians and soldiers who lost their lives in the battlefield or to illness.

no one has been buried here since 1973 as this was one of the 42 cemeteries where burials were prohibited by the government. the japanese association of singapore maintains the park which is often visited by japanese students, residents and tourists.'

this is the prayer hall within the cemetery park. i had thought it was a shinto shrine. although the prayer hall is closed most of the time, if you peep in, you can see some statues of buddha at the front of the hall.

the cemetery park is well-maintained and there are quite a number of mature trees, including some fruit trees. there is an old lychee tree - designated an heritage tree - next to the prayer hall. the lychee tree is not able to bear fruit here because of the unsuitable climatic conditions.

these three slabs of stones were erected in memory of those who lost their lives during the pacific war. behind this memorial, buried in a hole which was sealed with concrete, were the ashes of dead japanese soldiers collected from the destroyed syonan chureito at bukit batok.

this is a statue of the hinomoto guardian deity. this memorial was built in memory of 41 japanese civilains who died in the internment camp at jurong while waiting for repatriation after the japanese defeat in world war ii.

one surprise find at the japanese cemetery park is this chinese grave of a chinese man. although my mandarin is rather inadequate, i can make out certain characters like 'hokkien' and 'heng hwa' inscribed on the tombstone. i was told that the tomb had been refurbished. it belonged to the a former cemetery care-taker who died more than 70 years ago.

strangely, this chinese tomb is different from one i came across in another website. could there be more than one chinese grave within the japanese cemetery?


Peter Stubbs said...

Also buried in the Japanese Cemetery is Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchi who was a member of the Japanese Supreme War Council from 1938 to 1941, when he took over as Commander in Chief Southern Army. He was promoted to Field Marshal in June 1943. As the result of a Stroke in May 1945, he was too ill to attend the surrender of Japanese Forces in S.E. Asia at the Municipal Hall, Singapore on the 12th September 945. He died in June 1946.

yg said...

peter stubbs, i am aware of that. i think he died in johor bahru. unfortunately, i did not take a photo of his tomb. will look out for it when i next visit the cemetery.

Peter Stubbs said...

I figured that you may be aware of Count Terauchi's grave in the cemetery. I do have a photo of it, which I contemplated sending to you, but thought that you would have one.

yg said...

peter stubbs, thanks for being so thoughtful. no need to send me because i go to that area quite often and so should have no problem taking a picture of it.

Iconoclaster said...

Was visiting the cemetery the other day , there are 2 Chinese tombs located at opposite ends of the place .

yg said...

hi iconoclaster, i think i need to amke another visit to the place to check out the two chinese tombs. i must have missed the other one on my first visit.

Sky said...

My father chanced upon this blog recently.

The last photo of that tomb is his grandfather. He wants to tell you that that there IS another Chinese buried in the park and that is the brother of the man in the tomb in that last photograph. Both of them were the cemetery caretakers.