The CNMI welcomed families from the Katori city in Japan, who came to participate in a ceremony that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the reconstruction of the Katori Shrine on Saipan last Saturday at the Sugar King Park in Garapan.
The original shrine on Saipan, which is the only Katori shrine built outside of Japan, was built during the Japanese era in the CNMI in 1914. It was destroyed by a World War II fire in 1944.
Japanese Society of Northern Marianas president Masato Tezuka said the ceremony is very important for the society and the Japanese people one the island because this year also marks the 105th year since the Katori Shrine was built on Saipan. The Katori Shrine in Japan itself is considered one of the oldest in history.
Last Saturday, the Japanese Society of Northern Marianas was joined by CNMI officials and other members of the public for the Katori Shrine ceremony, which was presided over by Takeshi Katori, chief priest of the Katori Shrine in Japan.
Speaking through a translator, Katori said they are here to promote goodwill with the people of the CNMI government and with Saipan itself.
“[There are] very historic ties between Japan and [the] CNMI,” Tezuka said. “Last year, due to the [Super Typhoon] Yutu, they [families from Katori] could not come here. They got stuck in Guam, and then went back to Japan. So this year, we are very happy to have this ceremony again, to form a relationship between [the] CNMI and Japan.”
The shrine represents a place of prayer for peace and prosperity.
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said he always looks forward to seeing the families from Katori city every year.
“This is very sacred for us. It creates a lot of friendship and a spiritual prayer for all those that have gone during [World War II] and all those families, who are here every year,” Apatang said.
With Skymark Airlines Inc. beginning operations this November, both Apatang and Tezuka are positive that relations between the CNMI and Japan will only grow stronger.
“Mayor Apatang is working very hard and is supportive. He is also trying to make sister relationship with the Katori City in Chiba [Prefecture]. This is good news…Saipan,” Tezuka said.
Apatang is hopeful that with the Skymark flying back and forth soon, the CNMI can get more tourists from Japan. “I am still trying to create the sister city with the Katori mayor, and we are looking forward to him coming here next year in May. So we are looking forward to that.”