Visiting Akira Kurosawa’s Grave in An’yō-in Temple, Kamakura

It was not a touristy place but worth a visit for someone who has admired the genius of master filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa. Known for such great classics like The Seven Samurai (1954), Rashomon (1950), Yojimbo (1961), Ikiru (1952), Ran (1985), and many more, Kurosawa is one of the few filmmakers whose entire filmography I have watched. My fascination with him started when as a sophomore in college, I was assigned to research on his life to report for a Film 100 class. I read his book, Something Like an Autobiography and the experience transformed me into a Kurosawa fan almost instantaneously. When a chance to visit Japan came, I just had to include visiting his grave into my itinerary.

Akira Kurosawa’s grave is located in the cemetery of An’yō-in Temple, in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Kamakura is most popular for the Daibutsu (The Great Buddha), which is a top choice for any tourist visiting Kamakura. Kamakura can be reached about an hour from Tokyo’s Shimbashi Station. An’yō-in is about 10 minutes walk from JR Kamakura Station. Although, I swear we walked for more than 10 minutes because the ground was still very wet from the previous night’s snow storm. It was February and although it was very rare to snow the way it did in Tokyo during that time;  it’s also about half an hour before the sun sets, when we find ourselves heading to An’yō-in.

This is me in front of the An'yō-in Temple Entrance
This is me in front of the An’yō-in Temple Entrance

With Google maps and the app’s walking directions, it was easy to get to An’yō-in. The real challenge when we’ve finally reached An’yō-in, was finding out that the temple was already closed. I just know how to get to the temple but getting to the cemetery was another story. In fact, it was pure guess work when not knowing where to go and no one to ask, we just decided to take a path, which was on the right of the main temple entrance. After 10 paces, I realized it was the correct way because I started to see a few graves.

An’yoin cemetery itself is small and easy to navigate. But with the presence of fresh but wet snow, it was a different matter. I went straight ahead, tracing the footsteps of a few others who came before me.

Footprints left by other visitors
Footprints left by other visitors

Kurosawa’s grave is in an elevated area right by the steps in front of a hill. In this picture, you’ll see a house next to the cemetery. We actually used this house to help us determine the location of the grave.

The characters read, "Kurosawa Family"
The characters read, “Kurosawa Family”

When we spotted the grave, it was filled with thick snow that Kurosawa Family name engraved in the gravestone was not visible. As my own little tribute, I decided to clean up the grave and remove the snow. My hands were chilly but looking back at it now, I realized what a wonderful thing it is to be of service to one of the few icons I truly admire. I know that this experience is something that I will never forget. He is someone who continue to inspire not only me but countless of people touched by his life’s works.

People leave something from their country near the grave, this is the 10-peso coin i left behind
People leave something from their country near the grave, this is the 10-peso coin i left behind

As a parting note, I’d like to share a quote from him, delivered in 1990 when he received an honorary Oscar presented by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, he said,

“I am very deeply honoured to receive such a wonderful price. But I have to ask whether I really deserve it and I’m a little worried. Because I don’t feel that I understand cinema yet. I really don’t feel that I have yet grasped the essence of cinema. Cinema is a marvellous thing but to grasp its true essence is very very difficult. So what I promise you is that from now on, I will work as hard as I can at making movies. And maybe by following this path, I will achieve an understanding of the true essence of cinema and deserve this award.”

A true master indeed. Akira Kurosawa. 1910 – 1998

The master filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa's grave
The master filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa’s grave

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Address of An’yō-in: 3 Chome-1-22 Omachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0007, Japan

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3 thoughts on “Visiting Akira Kurosawa’s Grave in An’yō-in Temple, Kamakura”

  1. Dear Ms. Rouge,

    I cannot begin to Thank You for your blog. Like you, I discovered Mr. Kurosawa’s films & my life was never the same. It was a great dream of mind to meet this Great Man. Unfortunately, he passed away before I could do that.

    Since then, I have promised myself that if I go to Japan, visiting Mr. Kurosawa’s gravesite would be a primary destination.

    Your blog has made locating his gravesite much easier, and for that, I shall be Eternally Grateful to You. Again, Thank You.

    With Deepest Appreciation,
    W. A. Davies

    1. Hello William, it’s nice to meet a fellow Kurosawa fan. Actually, I haven’t logged in this account for quite some time but just 2 days ago, I re-watched The Seven Samurai and it still invokes the same love, admiration, awe, inspiration in me from when I first watch it in our film class. I’m glad that you find my blog entry helpful.
      Cheers!

  2. I visited Kurosawa’s grave on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. The temple was open, but we didn’t see a cemetery anywhere, except for a few tombs in the back.

    Luckily, I had a Japanese speaker with me who asked the monk on duty for directions. Unfortunately, the monk refused to help us. He said Kurosawa’s grave is blocked from non-family members.

    However, after exploring a bit, we easily found the cemetery and discovered that Kurosawa’s tomb was not blocked after all. We quietly paid our respects and left.

    Your photos posted here helped a great deal. Thanks very much!

    Just a tip for others making this pilgrimage: You do not have to enter the temple’s main gate to access the small cemetery. Instead, continue on the small path than runs beside the grounds. You’ll soon see the entrance on your left.

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