A Member of The Association of Graveyard Rabbits


Saturday 31 December 2011

Tis' the Season for Yellow Holly

After all the excesses of Christmas Day feasting, their can be no better antidote than a Boxing Day Graveyard trip with your family ~ the help of the additional headstone spotters, ensured that no stone remained unturned.
My Mum spotted this unusual yellow berried Holly in Warrington Cemetery in Cheshire.

Bacciflavia a yellow berried holly, first mentioned in 1775 although some sources refer to 1657. Dark green olive leaves. The berries often remain until well into the spring.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Home for the Homeless

St. John's Church is located on the Kirchwarft, Hooge, Germany. In the churchyard there is a simple wooden cross, which represents the 'Home for the Homeless'. This term refers to a site where the unidentified bodies of the victims of ship wrecks or drownings that have washed ashore are given a Christian burial.
Cemeteries of the Nameless were in use during the 18th and 19th Century mainly along the coastal areas, another can be found on the nearby island of Amrum. 

The island of Hooge consists of a group of artificial dwelling mounds known as Terps or Warft, which provide a safe ground during high tide and river floods. 

Hooge is one of the North Friesien Islands of Germany, just south of Denmark. These dwelling hills also occur in the coastal areas of the Netherlands ~ in the provinces of Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen. 

Annual flooding, causes the Terps to become isolated from one another and in particularly severe weather, flooding has rendered the Cemetery plots to literally become, Burials at Sea.

Monday 5 December 2011

Cafe in the Crypt

If you want a welcome break from Christmas shopping and fancy a Cuppa in the Crypt, then the one to visit is below St.Martin~in~the~Fields by Trafalgar Square in London. The Cafe is a wonderfully atmospheric and historic oasis of calm when compared to the activity that's going on above it.
The prices are very reasonable too.......... 

See the Spade and Pick on the funeral mound under the Death's Head on the stone below.

Near This Place Lye
Interred the Remains
Who departed this Life
Sep. 19th 1777
Aged 37 Years 

Friday 2 December 2011

Friday's Funerary Customs ~ Japanese Nokan

The Japanese ceremony of preparing the deceased for the journey to the afterlife, is called Nokan and the people who perform this ceremony are known as Nokanshi.

The Nokanshi's job is comparible to that of the mortician, however the Nokanshi has to perform the entire ritual under the watchful gaze of the deceased's family. The Nokanshi has to ensure that the family are unable to observe any naked body part of the deceased, as they undress, wash, prepare and re~dress their loved one in ritual clothes.  
Firstly the face of the deceased is prepared, a man will be shaved and later make~up is applied ~ this is done regardless of gender. The body is then washed and dressed in specially prepared clothes for the funeral.
Preparing the garments for the deceased

Finally they will lay the person in the coffin, first the body and then the head.
The entire ceremony is performed with beautifully flowing ritualistic movements that highlight it's grace and elegance. The Nokan's extreme perfection is upheld at all times and done with the utmost respect to both the family and the deceased.

The work of the Nokanshi, may appear to be an honorable task to most people in the Western world, but to a Japanese person this is regarded as one of the worst jobs you could have. Therefore many Nokanshi are secretive and evasive when speaking about their occupation, which is considered to be worse than that of a gravedigger. Handling the deceased, means that a Nokanshi has to be careful not to contract certain diseases and so they have regular vaccinations against such things as hepatitis.

Nokanshi training

Click on the bold type for a link to an article that gives an insight into the life of a Japanese Nokanshi .

A trailer for the Award Winning film Departures  about the life of a Nokanshi can be seen by clicking on the bold type.


Somtimes you have to wait a little longer for the best things in life and I am so glad that I stayed awake until 2.30am to watch this beautifully made film with such a wonderful musical score, what could be better, I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

This film is a touching portrayal of the story of Daigo Kobayashi ~ Masahiro Motoki ~ who begins the story as a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and now finds himself without a job.
Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled 'Departures' thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a 'Nokanshi', a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life.

While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of 'Nokanshi', acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed.
The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living.


To find out more about the Ceremony of Nokan, click on the bold type.


Thursday 1 December 2011

Dove and Anchor

In Loving Memory of
beloved son of
William & Alice Banner
who Died 9th Dec. 1925 Aged 18 Years
Just as Life seemed Bright
God called him home to rest
also the above
Alice Banner
Died 22nd March 1942 Aged 73 Years
Until We Meet Again
also Billy
Son of Charles & Annie Banner
Died Feb 16th 1932 Aged 2 Years
also the above William Banner
Died July 28th 1946 Aged 76 Years

This beautifully detailed carving from Runcorn Cemetery in Cheshire, depicts a Dove, which is regarded as a symbol of Peace and Purity and the Anchor represents Hope.
Whilst the Lilies at the side of the headstone symbolise Purity and Chastity and the Roses are for Everlasting Love. 

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