Saipan Katori Shrine marks 37th year


From right to left, Ryoji Takagaki, Japanese consul to Saipan; Henry Hofschneider, special assistant to the Mayor of Saipan; and Judy Torres, deputy managing director of Marianas Visitors Authority. They are holding art by Noguchi who is an artist from Katori City. (LEIGH GASES)

The Saipan Katori Shrine at the Sugar King Park celebrated its 37th anniversary last Saturday, coinciding with the annual Japanese Autumn Festival, highlighting the deep ties between the Marianas and Japan.

In the morning, the Japanese Society of the Northern Mariana Islands, along with Henry Hofschneider, special assistant to the Mayor of Saipan; Ryuju Takagaki, Japanese consul to Saipan; and Martin Dueñas from Marianas Visitors Authority joined members of the Japanese Society of the Northern Mariana Islands to mark the 37th anniversary of the Sugar King Park shrine, which is a replica of the Katori Shrine in Japan.

Society vice president Hiroko Tajima said that conducting the annual Katori Shrine Ceremony “has always been a great honor for the Japanese Society of Northern Marianas. Katori Shrine is the oldest and high[est] grade shrine in Japan and contributes [to] the friendship between the people of Japan and CNMI. …As we gradually recover from this difficult time, we look forward to [bringing Katori City and Saipan] much closer,” she said.

Saipan and Katori City, Japan have an official sister-city agreement that was inked in October last year.

Takeshi Katori, chief priest from the Katori Shrine in Japan, who attended the ceremony virtually, said their “wish for entering a sister-city agreement between Saipan and Katori City finally came true. The agreement stated that our two cities share 100 years of history through Saipan Katori Shrine. I sincerely hope our good relationship will continue for many generations to come.”

The Saipan Mayor’s Office was presented with paper cutting art made by the Japanese artist Noguchi from Katori City in Japan.

Later that evening, the Japanese Society of the Northern Mariana Islands held its annual Autumn Festival at the Paseo de Marianas. The event was highlighted by the Awaodori Saipan Team’s 15th anniversary and was attended by Tokyo Tensuiren entertainers from Japan.

There were also demonstrations of the traditional Kendo by the Saipan Kenbukai, as well as a Bonodori Dance, which is a traditional dance with traditional kimono.

The festival also featured Japanese foods, game booths, raffle, and garage sales.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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