Members of the Japanese Society of the Northern Marianas and their families came together at the Sugar King Park last Nov. 7, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the revival of the Saipan Katori Shrine in Garapan—an event that was also held online to allow the participation of guests in Japan.
The ceremony started at 11am and ended 11:45am. One of the unique aspects of this year’s event was the presentation at the ceremony of amulets that had been prayed over at the Katori Shrine in Chiba, Japan. The amulets were prayed over to grant safety or good health and these were shipped to Saipan and presented at the ceremony to members of the Japanese Society of the Northern Marianas.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, representatives of the Katori Shrine in Chiba, who usually attend the event on Saipan, were unable to be here this year, which prompted the Japanese Society of the Northern Marianas to also hold the event via a remote ceremony, making it possible for Katori representatives to attend virtually.
Among those who joined the ceremony on Saipan were Saipan Mayor David M Apatang, Japan Consul Kazuhiko Ono, Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo, former Marianas Visitors Bureau managing director J.M. Guerrero and his wife, and members of the Japanese Society of the Northern Marianas.
“The annual Katori Shrine Ceremony and the Autumn Festival have always been the highlight events every October [on] Saipan, enjoyed by hundreds of visitors and residents of Saipan. The ceremony this year is clearly a variation of how past ones were held,” said Apatang in his speech. “But no matter the environment we find ourselves in, it is how faithful we are in performing the ceremony that truly counts.”
People who attended the ceremony viewed old photos of the time when the Saipan Katori Shrine was being rebuilt and current photos of the Katori Shrine in Japan.
Takeshi Katori, chief priest of the Katori Shrine in Chiba, Japan, also sent a message. “Over the years, we highly appreciate your generous support, not only from Japanese people but also local dignities. We hope Saipan recovers from this difficult time as fast as possible and people go back to normal life.”
The Katori Shrine in Chiba is the one of the oldest and is a high-grade shrine in Japan. The shrine contributes to the strong ties between the people of the CNMI and Japan. (PR)