A dark spot for fun

It’s not every day that one is walking down the street and finds a playground that once used to be an execution ground for Christians.

From "Kirishitan" execution ground to playground

The text on the sign reads as:

Former Kirishitan execution site and burial ground for people who had no living relatives
In 1661, during the era of the Edo Shogunate’s “Prohibition of Kirishitan (Christianity) Policy”, the second-generation lord of the Owari feudal Clan, Mitsutomo Tokugawa began to carry out mass arrests of Kirishitan (Christians) and in 1664 executed over 200 arrestees at the Senbonmatsubara execution ground, formerly located here.
However, just one year later, Mitsutomo Tokugawa moved the execution ground to Kawarakeno and erected the Seiryo Hermitage (existing Eikoku Temple) in its place, to pray to Buddha for the repose of the souls of those executed.
Additionally,more than 1,400 people who died leaving no living relatives behind were buried here during the period 1860-1871.

On the left side of the photo you can catch a glimpse of a small cemetery.

Further on down the road is a park and playground, that used to be a testing ground for swords… on criminals.

Former testing ground for swords

The sign reads:

Site of Anatomy on “Otameshi-ba” (Execution Ground)
In the winter of 1821, the first dissection of a human body in the history of Nagoya was carried out by a physician, Ishiguro Seian. The place was an execution ground where brand new swords were tried out in beheading the sentenced.

Tameshigiri is a practice popularized in the Edo period, the 250 year-long period of peace that followed the Warring States Period (sengoku jidai). During the Edo period warriors had to come up with alternative ways to test their skills as the glory of the battlefield was no longer attainable. Tameshigiri was one such trial. Later, many Imperial Japanese Army officers got in trouble for doing tameshigiri in Manchuria and Occupied Korea.

About Younghusband

Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (1863-1942) was a British explorer, army officer, military-political officer, and foreign correspondent born in India who led expeditions into Manchuria, Kashgar, and Tibet. He three times tried and failed to scale Mt. Everest and journeyed from China to India, crossing the Gobi desert and the Mustagh Pass (alt. c.19,000 ft/5,791 m) of the Karakoram mountain range in modern day Pakistan. Convinced of Russian designs on British interests in India, Younghusband proactively engaged in the nineteenth century spying and conflict over Central Asia between the British and the Russians known as the Great Game. "Younghusband" is a Canadian who has spent a number of years bouncing back and forth between his home country and Japan. Fluent in Japanese and English with experience in numerous other languages from Spanish to Georgian, Younghusband has travelled throughout Asia. He graduated with an MA from the War Studies Department at the Royal Military College of Canada, where he focussed on the Japanese oil industry and energy security issues. He has recently returned to Canada from Japan, and is working in the technology sector.
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9 Responses to A dark spot for fun

  1. There must be a ton of ghost stories surrounding that place.

  2. elambend says:

    Better to be buried in a garden than a dump.

  3. Curzon says:

    “Former Kirishitan execution site and [Buddhist] burial ground for people who had no living relatives”

  4. Pingback: Old execution site now used as a children’s playground | Japan Probe

  5. Aceface says:

    “Imperial Japanese Army officers got in trouble for doing tameshigiri in Manchuria and Occupied Korea.”

    That’s a bit problematic.IJA did just that in occupied SE and China proper.
    But in Korea ?They get busted by cops doing that and charged with murder.

  6. Roy Berman says:

    Reminds me a bit of how they used to behead criminals and hang their heads around the Sanjo bridge in Kyoto, where the Starbucks is now.

  7. Ido says:

    Aceface, do you even know that Japan had invaded Korea?? And that the police can’t do much during war and even less against an army that invaded the territories?

  8. Aceface says:

    Yeah,Japan invaded Korea multiple times.
    But my dear friend.Korea,at the time WAS part of Japan.
    The police(and the uniform officers were both Korean and Japanese) were run by governor general of Korea and also under the control of ministry of interior which is independent wing of imperial Japanese government and nemesis of military in Japan proper.
    If you kill anyone within their district,you either got busted or handed over to Kempeitai,the notorious military police.

  9. Roy Berman says:

    Yeah, Korea was a part of the Japanese Empire, and Japanese had a higher legal status than Koreans in some ways, but it’s not like the status differential was so obscene that Japanese could walk around killing Koreans in the street. Japan had Korea for about a half century, and most of that time was relatively calm, with functioning civil government, and nothing like a wartime occupation.

    By contrast, Japan really only controlled SE Asian and Chinese (aside from Manchuria) territory under military occupation, and didn’t stay there long enough or successfully enough to put down armed resistance and develop and peacetime colonial government, so such abuses were proportionately more common. The Japanese military did kill a lot of people in Taiwan and Korea as well, but only in the first few years, and by the time that they invaded China and perpetrated the infamous Nanjing Massacre the horrendously violent part of the occupation in Korea and Taiwan was already a generation ago.