Correct attitude when visiting a master’s grave
Recently, a video regarding karate tourism in Okinawa was featured on NHK World Japan. It showcases a group of foreign visitors training and visiting monuments and the grave of a deceased master.
While such visits are quietly understandable, we feel the necessity to remind visitors that in Okinawa, a grave is the most sacred site for a family and one would normally need the permission to visit the premise.
Usually entering a grave courtyard is not allowed to nonmember of a family. Most families in Okinawa only visit their family tombs during the Shīmī season (1). On this occasion and other special celebrations (death commemoration and anniversary), family members and guests offer sticks of incense to the deceased.
But this is not a proper action nor expected for nonfamily members or students of a karate master. Doing so without the proper authorization from the family can also be seen as disrespectful. Furthermore performing karate kata inside a graveyard is not a good attitude even if the intention was good. For these acts, people would easily be frowned upon by the local society
Please bear this in mind when making a visit to a master’s grave.
(1) Seimei-sai in Japanese language or Shīmī in Okinawan language is a memorial service offered to the deceased. On that occasion, relatives and friends gather in the family grave courtyard. After making offerings in front of the tomb, they enjoy food and drinks in front of the tomb.