Japanese association cleans and ‘purifies’ Japanese cemeteries


Volunteers scrub one of the graves at the Susupe Japanese cemetery last Saturday morning. (Fahim Uddin)

The Japanese Northern Marianas Descent Association led a cleanup of the Japanese cemetery in Susupe and Japanese peace memorial in Marpi last Saturday.

Some 15 volunteers and a few other young students and instructors from the Japanese Society Educational Department scrubbed clean the dirty graves at the Japanese cemetery in Susupe.

The students, aged between 6 and 10 years old, took part in a summer camp of the Japanese Society Educational Department to learn the about the Japanese culture and history and were taught to write and speak the Japanese language.

Japanese Society Educational Department pre-school teacher Akemi Ishikawa said, “I am proud to see our students and faculty helping to clean the cemeteries in Marpi and Susupe.”

At the Japanese peace memorial in Marpi, 15 volunteers—including Japanese Society of Northern Marianas president Masato Tesuka and 2014 Executive of the Year Norman Tenerio— were involved in the beach cleanup.

After each cemetery cleanup, the group performed a five-minute prayer by placing candles on each grave.

Star Water Co. also assisted by donating cleaning materials.

Japanese Consul to the CNMI Kinji Shinoda said the cemetery cleanups were part of the Japanese custom to honors the spirits of their ancestors. 

“This week, everybody goes back to their hometown in Japan to welcome their ancestors’ soul from heaven and the ground. Today is an opportunity for kids to learn about that,” said Shinoda.

He also said that this week commemorates the Japanese surrender to the U.S. ending World War II.

Fahim Uddin
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