Make space for cemeteries among the living

Japanese Cemetery Park at 22 Chuan Hoe Avenue.
Japanese Cemetery Park at 22 Chuan Hoe Avenue.PHOTO: ST FILE

Recently, interest has grown in the Japanese Cemetery Park at 22 Chuan Hoe Avenue, said to be the largest such cemetery in South-east Asia and the burial ground of the Japanese community in early Singapore.

The serene garden park has drawn visitors who take photos to post on social media pages. Some even have their wedding photos taken in the park.

In a land-scarce Singapore, it is important to allocate land for different uses carefully. Cemeteries and funeral facilities are located far from housing estates.

Perhaps we need to explore how we can better integrate the living with the dead, and plan for cemeteries and after-death facilities within living spaces. It might help us better accept the reality of death as the population ages.

Instead of moving deceased family members away from the living environment, we can better utilise the extensive park connector networks and redesign parks to accommodate a resting spot for the dead.

In this way, as we get on with life, we can also remember and celebrate the lives of our departed loved ones.

Highgate Cemetery in London, the Waverly Cemetery in Sydney, the Skogskyrkogorden Cemetery in Sweden and the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise in Paris are excellent examples of how cemeteries continue to be a site for the living to enjoy instead of being dark and foreboding places.

Cemeteries are also a nation's cultural asset and we should integrate them into the beautiful tapestry that represents our living communities.

Chen Jiaxi