Japan’s Largest Cemetery Is An UNESCO World Heritage Site That Contains A Termite Memorial
Generally speaking Buddhism is one of several eastern religions that consider all living things to be sacred, even termites. If a Buddhist monk discovers a termite infestation within his living area, it would not be in accordance with his religion to call upon the services of a pest control professional. So what is a peace-loving Buddhist supposed to do when he finds himself at the mercy of termites? It should not be surprising to learn that this particular dilemma has troubled many strict Buddhists in the past. Termites are common and economically significant insect pests in the eastern hemisphere, which can make life hard for Buddhists living in Japan, China, India, Nepal, Tibet or any other eastern country. However, no matter how annoying or damaging some insect pests may be, Buddhists consider pest control practices to be tragic. In fact, Japan’s largest and most treasured cemetery contains a memorial to termites that had been killed by pest control professionals.
Located within the Koyasan Mountains of Japan is the Okunoin Cemetery. The cemetary, and the surrounding area, is registered as an UNESCO world heritage site, and it contains a memorial to dead termites. The cemetery is sacred to those practicing Shingon Buddhism. The area contains more than two hundred thousand graves of people who were strict followers of Shingon Buddhism while they were alive. The headstone located at the termite memorial reads: “termites, rest in peace”. The memorial is specifically referring to all of the termites that were killed by a particular Japanese pest control company. Since Buddhists hold all forms of life to be sacred and equal, it does not necessarily seem strange to find a termite memorial located within a cemetary that also contains several important figures in Japanese history.
The Japanese Termite Control Organization helped to create the memorial by providing a large tomb. This tomb was brought to the cemetery in remembrance of all of the termites that were killed by the termite control organization. While it is not known how much the termite organization paid for the large tomb, there are several other tombs within the cemetery that were purchased for millions of dollars. Not only is this termite-tomb located near the graves of some of the most influential monks in Japanese history, but the cemetery is widely regarded as the most sacred area within the country.
If you traveled to Japan would you be interested in visiting the termite tomb?