Home » The best photo guide to Musashi Imperial Graveyard

The best photo guide to Musashi Imperial Graveyard

Musashi Imperial Graveyard is great for photographers who enjoy Japanese royal family history.  This cemetery is the resting place of two Japanese emperors, Showa and Taisho, and their wives. Their tombs lie in a forest filled with giant trees.  It is perfect for photos.

large torii gate in front of large steep staircase up to Taisho Emperor tomb
Tomb of Taisho Emperor.

The Musashi Imperial Graveyard is in the hills of Hachioji City, on the outskirts of Tokyo.  It is a simple place.  The entrance is large and spacious.  A small garden and pond are on the right, and an administration building is 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 a deep forest.  The trees block out most of the sights and sounds of the surrounding area.  Once inside, you have some privacy and solitude.  

tomb of Empress Kojun behind low fence
Tomb of Empress Kojun.

You don’t see locals taking morning walks through it.  There are no shops or drink machines.  People don’t walk their dogs there.  There is an air of quiet imperiousness.  It is unique in Tokyo.


Everything is elegant.   The courtyards in front of the tombs have huge torii (the gates at Shinto shrines) and manicured trees.  Staircases go up to a low fence with an Imperial seal on the entrance.  It feels regal.

Past the fence are huge stone mound-like tombs.  They are made of countless little stones.  Each one is about the size of a large man’s fist, and they interlock together.  It’s a pity they are off-limits.

Showa Emperor tomb behind low fence
Tomb of Showa Emperor

My favorite is that of Emperor Taisho. It is gorgeous. The height is different from the others; it appears to be higher.  And it might be the similar colors of the wood, torii, and stones that attract my eyes.  The staircase also seems to be much longer and more, Imperial?

Their wives, Kojun and Teimei, are nearby. Each person has their own little complex.  And while the Emperors’ tombs are the most impressive, the ladies’ are the prettiest.  

Empress Kojun’s tomb is especially lovely.  The stones of her mound seem to be lighter in color.  It appears to be a little lower in height than the others.  And the trees are a little further away from hers, and the stones are lighter in color.  Her tomb is, without a doubt, very lovely. 

A  new section is near Emperor Taisho’s tomb.  This one is still under construction, which will be for Emperor Heisei. He and his wife, Michiko, have both commented on how they would like to be buried in the media.  Apparently, they want something in line with the times.  The public hasn’t seen any plans yet.  I will comment on one thing here.  As construction has cleared many trees, the noise from the road behind is now quite audible. 

You might think that this place is rarely visited, but it’s quite the opposite. I wouldn’t say many people go there, but the flow is constant.  Once or twice a day, there will even be tour groups. 

steep staircase up to Taisho Emperor tomb
Staircase up to Taisho Emperor’s tomb.

A brief history of the Imperial Graveyard

Emperor Taisho was called the “Tokyo Emperor.”  He was the first of his line to live his entire life in or near the city.  A complex was needed for his burial site.  Takao would be it.

tomb of Empress Kojun behind large torii gate at Musashi Imperial Graveyard

What can you photograph at the cemetery?

  • Tombs of the Taisho and Showa Emperors.  Their wives are near their husbands.  Everyone has their own mound;
  • Torii (gates found at Shinto shrines), and;
  • It has been reported that Emperor Emeritus Akihito and his wife will be cremated.  The land for their tombs has been cleared, but no work has begun (as of November 21, 2020). 

Photography tips

  • The entrance to the tombs is through a deep forest.  That area can be very dark.
  • Try to visit in autumn, when the leaves change color.
  • All the tombs are fenced and off-limits, so you won’t be able to get very close.  If you want to focus on something within the burial areas, take a zoom lens.
  • The cemetery has a strong police presence, so don’t get too close to the tombs.
Empress Teimei tomb behind large torii gate at Musashi Imperial Graveyard

Where is the Musashi Imperial Graveyard?

It is near Takao station, west of Tokyo.  Both the Keio or Chuo lines serve it.  Their respective platforms are only a few tens of meters apart.  

An express train on either line will take roughly one hour.  Please be careful on the Keio, as the line splits in two.  Change trains at Kitano station and use the Keio-Takao line.  If you don’t, you’ll end up in Hachioji.  The walk to the cemetery takes about a twenty-minutes. 

Here is a Google Map:

There are also ample car parking facilities for those traveling by car.

Admission costs

Free

Cemetery opening hours

The Musashi Imperial Graveyard is open from 9 am to 4 pm, with the last entry at 3:30 pm.

Other photo spots in near Musashi Imperial Graveyard

Wrapping up

If you are interested in the Imperial Family, visit the Musashi Imperial Graveyard!  It is a beautiful place that has strong connections with Japanese history.  And make sure to get some pictures because what is there is hard to find anywhere else.

large torii gate in front of Empress Kojun tomb

And one last thing! If you are fortunate, you might see a member of the Imperial family. They go there to pay respects to their ancestors on occasion.  You might get lucky.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

2 thoughts on “The best photo guide to Musashi Imperial Graveyard”

  1. Pingback: Shinjuku Gyoen is Tokyo's best park for photography - Tokyo in Pics

  2. Pingback: Yanaka Cemetery - the Shogun's resting place - Tokyo in Pics

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top