Purification ceremony held to heal wounds of war

Five Shinto Buddhists held a purification ceremony last Thursday with the hopes of exorcising the horrors of World War II, and that the remains of those who died be found and given proper burials.

The ceremony, held in a vacant parking lot beside Aqua Resort Club, was part of non-profit organization Kuentai’s visit on Saipan. Kuentai’s mission is to locate the remains of all of those who remain missing during World War II.

The Buddhists, led by Revs. Yoshinobu Miyake and Norimichi Uemura, did a harae or harai that involved using an onusa or haraigashi—a large paper shaker.

Venerable Hakuga Murayama, Ryushin Onishi, and Naomichi Ueda recited a mantra in Sanskrit before the main prayer, recited in Japanese, while also offering the Tamagushi or the sacred twig made from the sakaki tree branch.

Murayama, Onishi, and Ueda led the chanting of the famous Mahayana Buddhism’s Heart Sutra, while those who attended the ceremony alternated in offering incense. The ceremony ended with a dedication of the souls who died for eternal peace.

Japanese Consul Toshio Matsumura, Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, Kuentai president Takeshi Nishida, chairman and secretary general Usan Kurata, Kuentai USA secretary general Yukari Atsuka, Guam Japanese Association representative Satsuki H. Perez, and CNMI Governor’s Office press secretary Ivan Blanco were some who offered incense.

The prayer’s translation in English: “When I hear the sounds of the waves on the ocean in this remote island, I think of the souls of those who are not resting in peace. A war broke out on Saipan and the Japanese suicide attack was finally charged on July 7th 1944,” is the start of the prayer’s translation.

“The white beach was turned into bloody red, and those who sacrificed their lives were counted over 50,000 at the end.

“Now more than 70 years have passed, and we are right here that used to be a battlefield. Today, Kuentai and the international religious fellowship are holding a memorial service, to wish an earliest return of the service members and to pay highest respect for those who bravely fought on the war and sacrificed their lives.

I express my deepest wish for a prosperity of the countries and eternal peace in the world,” the prayer’s English translation continued.

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Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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