Craftsmen refresh Peace Prayer Statue ahead of Okinawa Memorial Day

Craftsmen refresh Peace Prayer Statue ahead of Okinawa Memorial Day

Workers dust the 12-meter-tall Peace Prayer Statue during a “cleansing” ritual inside the Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall (Heiwa Kinendo) in Mabuni, Itoman City, on June 11.

June 12, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

Mabuni, Itoman City—the Peace Prayer Statue, enshrined in the Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall (Heiwa Kinendo), was dusted down during a “cleansing” ritual on June 11, days ahead of the Okinawa Memorial Day for the War-dead which falls on June 23. The number of staff tasked with this ritual was reduced to eight this year, as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus. Given that 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, master craftsmen were also commissioned to apply a fresh coat of lacquer to the statue for the first time in twelve years.

The Peace Prayer Statue stands about 12 meters tall and about 8 meters wide. To dust the statue, the workers climbed on ladders and took stock of any cracks and overall deterioration.

Seiji Itokazu, 65, a former professor of Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, had a hand in building the Peace Prayer Statue. He wiped the sweat off of his forehead and said, “It’s a small act, but this cleaning ritual is a prayer for world peace.” Tetsuya Mori, 43, a lacquer craftsman who helped restore Shuri Castle said, “The Peace Prayer Statue is not for one religion, race, or nationality. I hope that the statue will remain decades and centuries down the road, and inspire people to think about peace.”

The annual memorial service for Okinawa’s war-dead will be held at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall at 3 p.m. on June 22. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the service will be scaled down and closed to the public.

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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