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A walk around small Somei Cemetery

Somei Cemetery is another of Tokyo’s lesser-known gems.  It isn’t very big.  Of all the major ones in Tokyo, it might well be the smallest.  You can see all of it in one day, no problem.  Don’t let that deter you from visiting, though.  

Japanese graves Somei Cemetery

As with many of these older Japanese cemeteries, the stars are the grave architecture.  Those are what will grab the attention of all graveyard lovers!  There are so many different types.  There are some with military connections and others that look like giant monoliths.  Of course, you’ll find everything in between too!

Like Aoyama and Tama cemeteries, some famous people are interred there.  But, the majority of these are from the literary and creative worlds.  I doubt many of them are well-known overseas.


If you want to find anyone special, there is a map you can get at the office.  One version of it is in English but only has limited information.  The Japanese version is far more extensive.  There is also a public map on a noticeboard across the road (marked on the map below).

Japanese grave and cherry blossoms

Somei Cemetery is a pleasant place.  It is in a very suburban part of Tokyo.  A sea of houses surround it.  And on the west side is the temple of Jigenji.  A literary figure lies there, the author Ryunosuke Akutagawa. 

When is the best time to visit the cemetery?

You should go in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom.  There are many of the trees throughout the cemetery.  In terms of beauty, it is just behind Aoyama.

Japanese tomb and cherry blossoms at Somei Cemetery

Where is Somei Cemetery?

It is about a ten-minute walk from Sugamo or Komagome Stations.  Both are on the Yamanote Line, which makes getting around Tokyo easy.  Here is a Google map:

Opening hours

Somei Cemetery is open 24 hours a day.  The administration office is open from 8:30 am to 5:15 pm.

Somei cemetery cherry blossoms

Admission costs

None

Somei cemetery cherry blossoms and grave

Is public WIFI available?

No

Are public restrooms available?

Yes

Somei Cemetery’s Foreign section

Like all the older cemeteries in Tokyo, Somei has a foreign section.  It is small.  The only person of note in it seems to be Loduska J. Wirick.  Loduska was an American missionary who was also a qualified nurse and doctor!  During the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, she cared for many Japanese soldiers.  She became “the Nightingale of the Orient.”

tombstone of missionary Loduska J Wirick at Somei Cemetery
Tombstone of missionary Loduska J Wirick at Somei Cemetery.

Other photo spots near Somei Cemetery

Wrapping up

Tama Cemetery is bigger, and Aoyama is more famous, but Somei is still interesting.  Due to its age, some historically famous people are buried there.  And the grave architecture is fascinating.

Somei Cemetery grave and cherry blossoms

I’ll visit Somei Cemetery again in the future. So, expect these pictures and information to change at some point.  As I go, I’ll learn more about Somei Cemetery and put it here.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

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