Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine in Davao - Philippines

Every All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day each year thousands flock to the Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine in Catalunan, Grande, Davao City. Some Filipino, Japanese, and American veterans and their families and relatives drop by here to pay respects.

Even on ordinary days the Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine may be seen with local and foreign visitors to get a glimpse of the monument dedicated to world peace. It reminds everyone of the brotherhood of all men no matter what race, faith, or dogma, and the futility of war, no matter the reasons.

More importantly, the Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine reminds everyone of the heroic exploits of soldiers who risked their lives to do their duty to their countries—Filipinos, Japanese, and American. On their Ubon Yasumi Day a lot of Japanese tourists and veterans visit the place for the annual reunion commemorating world peace. This is among the tourism programs supported by the government.

Catalunan, Grande, locality cradling the Japanese Peace memorial Shrine, is about 9 kilometers from Davao City and is southwest of the city. It is near the historic town of Mintal in Tugbok District where abaca production sites flourished during the height of Japanese migration to the place beginning in 1903. There is also a shrine in Mintal.

Davao became a major abaca plantation and processing site in the early 1900s spearheaded by migrant Japanese workers in the city. Among the foremost figures of that time—and a proponent of a law providing for homesteading, lease, or sale of lands not under Act No. 496—was Otha Kyosaburu. Kyosaburu is also honored each celebration rite at the Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine.

Graves of Filipino and Japanese soldiers are marked with elaborate tombstones at the Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine. These were among the soldiers who valiantly fought the fierce battle in the vicinity in World War II. Japanese graves are commonly three-leveled tombstones (narrower each level height) with a small cement platform in front for perching candles.

Filipino tombstones at the Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine are marked with embellished crosses. Families and relatives of the dead here gather at the tombstones to say a solemn prayer together and later share some snacks and happy times together. Though attached with a tragic past, celebrations at the shrine also bring camaraderie between Filipino and Japanese visitors aware of the international brotherhood it stands for.

The Japanese Peace Memorial Shrine allows us to re-visit the past but also look forward to a bright future.

 




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