November 15, 2004

The Japanese in Singapore

I was doing some research into early Japanese settlers in South East Asia — there were prominent Japanese settlements in Thailand (in Ayutthaya) and in Vietnam (in Hoi An). In Singapore too, the Japanese started arriving as the city started growing. In some articles I found the mention of a Japanese Cemetery in Singapore.

Before visiting the cemetery I did some more google search on the place. I found that a famous Japanese writer’s grave is in the cemetery. Futabatei Shimei (1864-1909) is considered as the first modern novelist in Japan. Shimei spent some time in Russia translating the works of some Russian writers. He was on his way home from Russia when he died on the Bay of Bengal.

Grave Marker for Shimei

Futabatei Shimei’s grave at the Japanese Cemetery in Singapore.

Futabatei Shimei was his pen name. His original name was Hasegawa Tatsunosuke. An interesting snippet about his pen name from Wikipedia

The origin of his pen name is in the curse his father said when told by his son that he aspired to study literature: Kutabatte shimee, Go to Hell!”

If you are in Singapore and want to visit the cemetery refer to this location

The cemetery is located at 22. Chuan Hoe Avenue. Take bus no 76 from Ang Mo Kio MRT. Alight after 10 stops at the junction of Yio Chu Kang Road and Phillips Avenue. About 100 metres along the Phillips Avenue, the road split into three. Take the road in the middle — Chuan Hoe Avenue. The cemetery is about 250 meters walk on this road.

The cemetery is also the final resting place of Otokichi Yamamoto, the first known Japanese in Singapore.

Singapore Japan

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