200 Graves Block Main Road in Tokyo’s Ōizumi Gakuen | FRIDAY DIGITAL

200 Graves Block Main Road in Tokyo’s Ōizumi Gakuen

Part of the construction work began in May of this year, but local residents are concerned that it will create traffic congestion.

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In 1946, shortly after the end of the war, the government decided on a city planning road that blocks about 200 graves. A budget of about 24 billion yen has been allocated.

Oh? Graves in the middle of the road!?


Near Seibu Ikebukuro Line’s Oizumi Gakuen Station in Tokyo, there’s a strange area like the one in the photo above. It’s part of Tokyo’s main road, the 19.3 km Radiating Route No. 7 (mostly known as Mejiro-dori), connecting Kudankita in Chiyoda Ward to Nishi-Oizumi in Nerima Ward.


“There are expectations for improved access to Tokyo’s outer ring road and the Kanetsu Expressway. Construction by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government began in ’06, relocating about 200 households on the road’s land. However, negotiations with a temple owning around 200 graves blocking the road did not reach an agreement, leaving a 2 km section near Nishi-Oizumi still unopened.” (Tokyo Metropolitan Government official) 

Negotiations aren’t settling due to several reasons, as explained by the head priest of the temple in question.

“The graves aren’t just located where the road passes through. However, the compensation the city offers for relocation covers only the portion directly under the road. Leaving some graves behind during relocation poses management risks and isn’t acceptable. Building new graveyards requires space for green areas or parking, so even with compensation, it’s hard to find equivalent-sized land.”

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government also has its reasons, according to an official from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Road Construction Division, Road Section.

“The compensation generally doesn’t cover parts of the land that aren’t directly under the road. In cases where only a portion of the cemetery was on road land, options included leaving the main hall intact while relocating graves to the outskirts or even restructuring the cemetery. The extent of financial support from the city varies case by case, based on compensation standards for land use, while considering not compromising the function of buildings. Costs necessary for relocation are compensated accordingly.”


Due to increasing demands from residents for early completion, the city began road construction in the unopened section extending west of the temple since May this year. They are progressing with pavement finishing and considering opening parts of it to serve as a detour route. However, there are concerns voiced by residents as well. 

“Unless all parts are connected, it could cause even more traffic jams. Currently, roads used as detours are heavily congested in the mornings and evenings, which is quite challenging. We residents hope for the entire road to open as soon as possible.” (Local resident)

The grave issue continues to complicate matters. Real estate appraiser Ken Tomita points out:

“The city should do its utmost within the feasible limits of the system to accommodate the temple side. Many urban planning roads have not started construction for decades, limiting landowners’ freedom of use. It’s time to review urban planning roads.”

There’s still no clear timeline for the full opening of the closed roads.

From the June 7-14, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • Interview and text by Masayoshi Katayama Photo by Masayoshi Katayama (Journalist)

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