Japan: Renewing interest in the Dutch Cemetery in Nagasaki
The ceremony at the Dutch Cemetery (Hollandsche Begraafplaats) on 18 May was part of a multi-year approach to find permanent management for this cemetery. The goal is to create a greater sense of ownership of the cemetery in the local community, specifically amongst organisations with a Dutch connection, so that they will take over the care of the cemetery.
The ceremony was organised with the cooperation of the Nagasaki Japan Netherlands Association, the City of Nagasaki (Deshima) and the Office of the Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in Nagasaki. Abbot Kizu from the Goshinji Temple performed a sutra for the souls of the estimated 540 people who were buried here during the two centuries that the graveyard was in use.
In June, a funerary specialist from the Netherlands will inspect the cemetery to draft a long-term management plan and find Japanese and Dutch scholars to research the history of the site and the backgrounds of those who are buried there. This visit is a direct follow-up of the visit made last February by Cees van ‘t Veen, Director of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
The cemetery in Nagasaki served the European residents of Deshima – the trading post of the Dutch East India Company in Japan – from the middle of the 17th century to 1870.