[Belinda Virgo]

My eyes are always drawn to the actual entrance to the Japanese War Cemetery, which was designed back in 1964 by Shigeru Yura. The entrance itself was designed strategically to allow the visitor to make a conscious decision to actually enter through the Japanese War Cemetery. So back in 1964, the design took into account the social sensitivity that was around the Japanese soldiers after WWII. And if you have a look and you see the sharp turn in the concrete path after the official entryway, you can see that he designed it to allow the visitor to make a conscious decision to enter that space, which I find fascinating.

Hello, my name is Belinda Virgo and I’m the Manager down at the Cowra Visitor Information Centre. So standing here at the entrance to the Australian and the Japanese War Cemeteries, you can see what a beautifully designed space it is. Looking up above you, you can see the gorgeous avenue of flowering trees that in springtime are, without a doubt, the most beautiful blossoming trees that we have in Cowra, and arguably, the most photographed as well. So springtime is certainly a time that lots of people like to visit, and take some photos of such a gorgeous space, whilst they’re of course paying their respects.

There actually used to be a wall of trees that sort of divided the Australian War Cemeteries and the Japanese War Cemetery. And that wall of trees meant that when you were standing here at the entrance, you couldn’t actually see through, so it was a very private space. However, about five years ago, there was a huge storm that came through, and that wall of trees was knocked down. Which is really quite symbolic of the continued understanding and reconciliation. And that’s what I just think is a beautiful story.

Producer/Sound Design: Masako Fukui

Music Credits: Enchanted Journey by Kevin MacLeod ( CC by 3.0 

Photo Credits: Photo 1: Entrance to the Japanese War Cemetery designed by architect Shigeru Yura; Photo by Mayu Kanamori

Photo 2: Official opening of the Japanese War Cemetery, November 22, 1964; Photo by David Henshaw / Henshaw Family Archives / Cowra Breakout Association

Photo 3: Japanese architect Shigeru Yura at the Entrance to the Japanese War Cemetery, 2014; Photo by Lil Wilson


The Cowra Voices Audio Archive Project 2023

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