The other day I visited a cemetery during Thanksgiving holidays. The name of this cemetery is Heaven Cemetery located in the city of Los Altos, California where my house is located. Just nearby the entrance of the cemetery, there was a person who was selling flowers.
To my best knowledge it is a world-wide customs for people to put flowers on graves and cemetery site. It is a great way to let deceased people know we are still thinking of them. We feel as if the soul of a deceased person is there with us while we pray for the deceased in front of a grave.
Usually there are only few people there. On this particular day however I found lots of people as well as many beautiful flowers put on graves. In the site of this cemetery, there is a pond with a fountain just nearby the chapel. The entire cemetery site does not look like a cemetery but look like a well decorated and well landscaped park which is unbelievably beautiful. Also I found so many beautiful flowers in the building of chapel as well.
Since this cemetery is located on the hill side, the air is so fresh and surrounding view is breathtaking. I really had a very nice time. Every time I visit a cemetery site in the United States, I cannot but compare it with cemeteries in Japan. There is a big difference between American and Japanese cemeteries. In short, any cemetery in the United States is so organized and look very beautiful. There is a board of a cemetery regulation which shows the detailed rules users and visitors must follow. I seldom find such board at cemetery sites in Japan. Although the cemetery sites which have been recently built in Japan are organized compared with old ones , most traditional Japanese cemeteries are not organized at all. Namely many visitors and prayers often put fruits and foods together with flowers in front of graves. As time passes by, fruits get rotten and many graves become messy and dirty which is a typical view of Japanese cemeteries.
People would like to give food which a deceased person liked. And I can easily understand this thought. As far as those foods, fruits and flowers are taken away on a regular basis before they become rotten and messy, Japanese graves can be kept in much cleaner conditions.
Getting back to the well organized situation of American cemeteries, the size, height, color of each grave is the same with uniform while in the case of Japanese traditional cemeteries, each grave is different in its height, size and also a color as well. Therefore overall view of a cemetery does not look very organized although each grave stone itself is usually kept in reasonably good conditions.
As a floral designer and flower arrangement instructor, I always pay special attention to flowers and floral decorations no matter where I visit. Both in America and Japan, people put flowers on graves and the kind of such flowers are those the deceased person liked while he/she was alive.
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