An Excursion into My Backyard

I have lived in Ventura County for a long, long time, and have watched changes come about, as is inevitable.  Mostly it is the loss of open space and farm lands, with houses replacing fields.  Traffic congestion has gotten considerably worse.  Certainly we all see this.  However, there are some things which do change for the better.

One thing which has changed is our level of discrimination.  Overall, we recognize it as wrong.  Years ago, people of different races and religions were buried in sections of cemeteries reserved just for them; other times, the dead amongst given ethnic groups were refused the right to buried at all.  In Ventura County, and throughout much of California, Asians were denied access to cemeteries, public or private, and as a result, were forced to create their own.

The Japanese community was one group, and so they had a small one for their own community.  In 1908, out in the middle of nowhere, they laid their dead to rest.  Some were Christian, some probably Buddhist or Shinto.  Only a few years ago did the historical recognition come, and some funding to help rebuild the cemetery.  Throughout the past century, the Japanese community has maintained it, but over the years, vandalism and age have taken its toll.

I have long been coming to this cemetery.  It is small and mysterious, with stones with kanji only, others in English, and others with both.  Years ago, photographs were attached to some of the more grand stones, but these have disappeared with time.  Other markers were simple white posts with faded writing.

There is another cemetery nearby, only a few hundred feet up the road, and probably dating from the same time.  It, too, has fallen into disrepair, but nothing has been done to renovate it.  More than obviously, it was once a going concern, probably well maintained.  The layout shows this, with clearly marked concrete borders for family plots. There are more fancy headstones, yet none except one has any flowers in front of it.  Instead, there is litter and debris.

Interesting how differently two communities remember their members.

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