Prayer at Japanese Haruki Cemetery

Twice a year the Japanese clean their ancestor's graves, make special food, and prepare for the visit of ancestral spirits. For the past few years the ethnobotany class has cleaned the Haruki cemetery at each Ohigan, most recently on Shunbun no Hi. This term, shortly after the vernal equinox, two priests from Japan were visiting the island. Arrangements were made for them to say a prayer in the cemetery.

Sano preparing to pray.

The cemetery was a civilian cemetery for Japanese living in Palikir (Haruki) Pohnpei during the Japanese era in Micronesia. In 1945 the adults were exhumed and the remains returned for reburial in Japan. There were, however, children and babies buried in unmarked graves. 

I only became aware of this in 2003 as the result of a visit of Kazuhide Aruga. His notes, in Japanese, speak of a younger sister Natsue and an elder brother whose name he never learned. 

Sano lights the incense.

Placing of the incense.

Video of the chant, focus was out. Sano and Aoki say a Buddhist requiem.

College of Micronesia-FSM student Hanae Shimizu explains the purpose of today's activity.

Aoki, said to be in his eighties, with Hanae. Japanese class instructor Akiko Kamikubo and student Jenny Gabriel on the right.



Inspecting the memorial stone.

A man from Paies noted a pre-existing older grave on the hill and expressed the opinion that the Japanese may have been using a pre-existing Pohnpeian cemetery to bury their dead.

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