THE GRAVE OF AN EXTRA EDITION NEWSPAPER DISTRIBUTOR
In June 1894 (Meiji 27) Shinano Sukeji came to Hakodate. He dressed in red from hat to “tabi” socks.
One day in November of the same year, during the Sino-Japanese War (1894-5) Sukeji distributed Hokkai Newspaper’s extra edition news to the citizen on the street and thus made a name for himself as “An extra edition newspaper distributor”. Eventually, he was called “Akafuku”, or “Mr.Red Clothes”.
The reason he dressed in red was because in Bushido, the spirit of samurai, the Chinese character “Sekishin”, or “red heart” represented “sincerity”.
After the Sino-Japanese War, old Sukeji made great effort to visit well-known generals and admirals in every corner of the country to ask for their writings and signatures in celebration of this victory.
He became well known for his eccentric habits, and the local newspaper introduced him as a man of unusual character.
Jokyo Horikawa, previously named Houkei, was the second son of a chief priest of Ganjoji Temple. Ganjoji Temple was a branch of Honganji Temple of the Jodo-shin sect at Kawauchimura in Mutsu (now Aomori Prefecture).
Houkei came to Ezo (now Hokkaido) in 1841 for the first time to study the religious situation in the district. Upon finding out that there weren’t any temples of the Honganji sub-sect in Ezo, he built a branch in Otaru after being given permission in 1857. He also built a place for people to rest and sleep at Jizou-cho (now Higashikawa-cho) in Hakodate. This place is now called Hakodate Betsuin (branch) of Honganji Temple of the Jodo-shin sect.
In 1859 Houkei let farmers in Hokuriku District settle in Shimizu-gou (now Kamiiso-cho) to cultivate new land. In the same year, he let them dig a canal, supplying drinking water from the Kameda River, and supplemented the insufficient water supply in Hakodate. The canal, called the Ganjoji River or the Horikawa River, was 2,900 meters long and was crossed with 8 bridges. It was a large-scale construction project, costing over 7,300 ryo, which resulted in the urban area expanding eastwards. When a new water supply system was completed in 1889, the canal was filled in.
In 1876 an English man named John Milne was invited to Japan by the Engineering Ministry to teach mining engineering and geology at Kobu University and Tokyo Teikoku University, Becoming interested in the study of earthquakes in Japan, he invented a seismometer and made seismological observations all over Japan. He is now known as one of the fornders of seismology in Japan, and helped establish the Seismological Society of Japan in 1880.
In 1877 he came to Hakodate to conduct geological research. The following year he returned to Hakodate to survey the shell mounds of an ancient indigenous settlement. In 1881 he married Tone, the eldest daughter of Jokyo Horikawa, in Tokyo and in 1895 he returned to England with her.
After his death in 1913, Tone’s health deteriorated and she returned to Hakodate, where she lived until she passed away in 1919.
The tombstones for Mr. and Mrs. Milne and Jokyo Horikawa are here in this graveyard.