Qing Ming Festival” is a culture introduced from China in the middle of the 18th century, and is a graveside service held during the Qing Ming Festival, one of the 24 solar terms.
This is one of the most important annual events in Okinawa, and is a memorial service for ancestors.
During the Seimei Festival, the family gathers at the “Monchu Tomb,” where generations of paternal blood relatives are laid to rest, and offer stacked boxes of food, sake, fruit, sweets, and flowers to the graves.
We raise incense, burn uchikabi (money from the afterlife), and pay thanks to the gods of the land of the grave with gratitude, and perform ancestral memorial services for our ancestors.
It is a lively event in which all relatives gather together, lay out a rug in the graveyard, and enjoy a feast of offerings.
The culture of having a “picnic in front of the grave” as if it were a “picnic in front of the grave” is an unfamiliar sight outside of Okinawa, and many people are surprised to see it, but it is also a place of friendship among relatives in Okinawa.
The Qingming Festival is held during the two-week period following the “Qingming Festival” in March of the lunar calendar (around April 5th of the new calendar).
Nowadays, because the cemetery is crowded, the period has been extended and is held mainly on weekends until around Golden Week in May.
If you have a chance to stroll around Okinawa around April, pay attention to Okinawan graves. You may find people spreading out blue sheets in front of graves and happily feasting on them.