For many people, the Musashi Imperial Graveyard could hardly be called a tourist spot. But the it might be exactly that as it has a special place in Japanese imperial history. Located in the hills of Hachioji City, on the outskirts of Tokyo, it contains the tombs of two Japanese emperors (Shōwa and Taishō) and their wives (Kojun and Teimei). If you are interested in Japan's Imperial Family and/or Japanese history, I highly recommend it.
It is a very simple place. The entrance is large and spacious with a small garden and pond on the right and an administration building on the left. Behind the administration building is a small house used by official visitors. From there a gravel road leads up to the tombs through deep forest. The trees block out the sights and sounds of the surrounding area which gives some privacy and solitude to those inside. It clearly is a special place. There is nothing touristy or tacky here - no souvenir shops nor drink machines. It is everything an Imperial cemetery should be.
The tombs are very simple yet very elegant. Each has a courtyard with a torii (the gate you see at Shinto shrines) with a staircase leading up to a fenced off area. Inside the fence are the tombs, huge stone mounds (or domes if you prefer) that are made of countless little stones, that are probably about as big as a large man's fist, all interlocking.
My favourite is the Taisho Emperor's. It is very beautiful. It seems to be higher than the others. I think it might be colours of the wood of the torii and the stones that all seem to be so similar that attract my eyes. Its staircase also seems to be much longer and more, Imperial?
And their wives are nearby too. While the Emperors' are the most impressive impressive, the lady’s are the prettiest, especially the Empress Kojun’s. Her’s seems to be a little lower in height than the others and with the trees a little further away, and the stones being lighter in colour, her resting place is very picturesque.
A new section has also been added near the Taisho Emperor's tomb, this one which is still under construction, which will eventually be for the former Emperor. He and his wife, Michiko, have commented on how they would like to be buried, but it remains to be seen what the site will eventually look like.
If you have an interest in the Japanese Imperial Family, the Musashi Imperial Graveyard is a great place to visit. You can see the Imperial Household Agency’s (Japanese) website for the graveyard here.
How to get to Musashi Imperial Graveyard
It is quite easy to get to. You just need to get to Takao station. Both the Keio or Chuo lines go there and their respective platforms only a few tens of meters apart. The trip by either train takes roughly one hour if you can get an express. If you get the Keio line, just be aware that the line splits in two. Change trains at Kitano station and use the Keio Takao line else you'll end up in Hachioji. From the Takao station is it about a twenty (hilly) walk from the station.
Here is a Google Map for you:
There are also ample car parking facilities for those who wish to travel there by car.
The Musashi Imperial Graveyard is open from 9am to 4pm, with last entry at 3:30pm.
If you enjoyed these articles, you might also enjoy reading about:
Aoyama Cemetery - Tokyo's first public cemetery. It is beautiful and filled with history
Gotokuji - the temple that is home to Japan's beckoning cats
History Garage – located in Odaiba, this museum is all about cars
Imperial Palace - home to Japan's emperor. A great place for photos!
Tower Hall Funabori – a small observatory, but a great one.