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What to do with old graves⁉”Grave stone renovation” is a beautiful solution.

Ancestors’ precious graves. We visit the graves every year, but they are falling apart with age…

We want to rebuild, but we can’t do it because of “certain things”! This is becoming more and more common.

Here are some of the surprising reasons and solutions.

Old graves, why can’t they be rebuilt?

Most old graves were made of concrete and are said to have a useful life of approximately 50 to 60 years.


Nowadays, an increasing number of graves have cracked stones, exposed rebar, or brittle graves with water inside, as shown in the photo.


When you visit a grave, you often see graves with broken headstones and weeds growing on them.


If this happens, there is a risk that they will collapse when you visit the graves or damage neighboring graves.


Normally, this would mean rebuilding, but there is a “problem” that is becoming more and more difficult to solve.


That is the problem of “construction vehicles not being able to enter”.


In the past, graves in Okinawa were often built on the slopes of mountains or by the sea, in places that were difficult to see.

As a result, there are more and more cases where reconstruction work is not possible because roads are not maintained and tombstones weighing several hundred kilograms cannot be transported to the site.


Unfortunately, an increasing number of graves are being abandoned and neglected.


In response to the grave problems unique to modern Okinawa that have only recently surfaced, Urasoe Josetsu Ishizai has taken a certain approach to solving the problem.


Stone renovation gives graves a beautiful new look.

It is “grave renovation.

The deteriorated surface of the grave is scraped away and covered with natural granite to make it as beautiful as new.


The grave in the photo was reborn shiny and new with stone renovation.


The graves are covered and secured with new granite and the gaps are caulked to prevent water from entering. The ceiling is also painted waterproof.


At a quick glance, the finish is as good as newly reconstructed.


This allows work to be done in areas where construction vehicles cannot enter, costs less than rebuilding, and can be expected to last for decades to come.


Unique technology for stone remodeling

(Stone processing plant in Japan)

Not every company can perform stone remodeling of graves, as it requires both stone processing techniques and craftsmen’s installation skills.


Our company, Urasoe Josetsu Stone, has affiliated factories in both China and Okinawa.

We pioneered a unique stone renovation method in which the stone is mined and processed in China, while the detailed processing tailored to the site is done by a factory and craftsmen in Okinawa.

(Quarry in China)

Today, with the spread of IT, we are working daily to solve the problem of graves in Okinawa by using CAD software used in construction to send detailed instructions to the factory in China in real time, and by working closely with craftsmen in Okinawa who have the skills to construct graves according to the original shape.


To carefully protect the graves from your ancestors

From customers who have had grave renovations installed,

We were at a loss as to what to do with our old graves, but Grave Stone Remodeling helped us clean them up.”

We were able to protect the graves my grandfather built!” We have received many grateful comments such as the following.


Graves are an important part of our connection to our ancestors.

We want to maintain it beautifully and carefully so that we can leave it to our children and grandchildren.


When things go wrong, I often ask, “Are you cleaning the graves properly? Are you visiting the graves?” I know, right?

For Uchinanchu, graves are that important.


Stone remodeling to beautify graves while preserving the memory of ancestors.

We also offer free consultations, so please feel free to contact us by phone or on our website.


📞Call us (toll free)



▼ “Grave Stone Renovation” was featured in a TV program! Please take a look!



Surprisingly Unknown? The History of Okinawa’s Graves

imperial tomb
Courtesy of Naha City Museum of History

Okinawa’s Grave Itinerancy (1) Wind Burial

Speaking of graves in Okinawa, “turtle shell” graves, shaped like a turtle’s shell, are famous.

Tracing the history of graves in Okinawa, it is surprisingly recent in the long history of Ryukyu, as it was only after the 16th century that people began to build graves with tortoiseshell or duct tombs.

Before the construction of tortoise-shell and gable tombs, it is thought that so-called “wind burial,” in which the body was placed in a cave or forest for burial, was common.
Therefore, the custom of cremation has a short history, suggesting that it had its own customs that differed from those of the mainland.
It is said that wind burial was practiced on Kutaka Island, which was considered a sacred place during the Ryukyu Kingdom period, until the 1960s.

History of Okinawa’s Graves (2) Gable tombs

The custom of wind burial eventually led to masonry around them, and artificial alterations were made to enlarge the digging and create a roof. This is how house-shaped graves, called “hafu graves,” came to be built.
The famous “Tamaurung (Tamau-do),” a royal tomb in Shuri, is a representative example of this broken tomb. The “Kochi Belly Gate Middle Tomb” in Itoman City is also famous.

While these older graves are large tombs set against rock walls, most private graves today are small, house-shaped, gable tombs built on level ground, also known as “yagwabaka.

History of Graves in Okinawa (3) Turtle-shell Tomb

Turtle shell tombs, a popular design for graves in Okinawa, are thought to have appeared after the 1600s.
Early turtle-shell tombs in Okinawa include the famous Ie Goten tomb (Ie Udonbaka) and the tomb of Gosamaru.

The tortoise shell tomb is a surprisingly new form in the history of tombs. On the other hand, its unique grave design is said to have been influenced by Chinese ideology.

In China, there is a “return to motherhood” philosophy that people return to their mother’s womb after completing their lives.
The shape of the tortoise shell tomb symbolizes a woman’s womb and is thought to reflect the Chinese-derived belief that a person returns to the womb by placing the bones within it.
Thus, it can be seen that the turtle tombs were strongly influenced by the ideological and cultural influences of old China.

However, building tombs during this period was only allowed for royalty and samurai families, and the general public did not have access to tombs during this period.
Since it was forbidden for common people to build tombs during the Ryukyu Kingdom period, it was not until after the Meiji period (1868-1912) that it became widely popular among the general public.

The difference between “Okinawan graves” and “mainland graves.”

Gyokurei Okinawa Grave

Differences between Okinawa and Mainland Graves (1) Grave Size

Visitors to Okinawa from outside the prefecture are surprised at the size of Okinawan graves.
Some people see these huge graves suddenly appearing in residential and urban areas and mistake them for public toilets. The size of these graves is unthinkable in the mainland.

The size of these graves is a major difference between Okinawan and mainland graves.
On the mainland, the typical size of a grave is about 150 cm high on a 1-square meter lot, but in Okinawa, a grave of at least 2 m high on a 3 tsubo (about 10 square meters) lot is the norm, with a grave yard of some size in front of the grave.

In April, during the Seemi festival, tents and blue sheets are spread out in these grave yards, and relatives gather for ancestral memorial services and a picnic-like dinner. For Okinawans, the graveyard is also an important place for socializing with relatives.

Differences between Okinawa and Mainland Graves (2) How to Deliver Bones

The different shapes of graves are due in part to the Chinese influence on Okinawan grave culture, but also to the different methods of bone delivery.

In Okinawa, the bones are placed in an average 7″ urn (about the size of a 21-inch urn) and buried above ground as they are.
Therefore, an ossuary (large space) is required.
The interior of the tomb is a three-tiered platform, and in the case of the Monchu tomb, there is a place for a joint burial at the back of the ossuary.
In recent graves, such a space is provided under the altar where the urn is placed, and those who have completed the 33rd anniversary of their death are buried there.

On the other hand, on the mainland (*there are regional differences), the bones are wrapped in a white cloth and placed in an underground ossuary called a “calotte. The absence of an above-ground ossuary means that the graves are more compact.

In addition, while most graves in Okinawa are roofed over like a “house,” graves on the mainland are piled up with square headstones, with a grave marker engraved on the top that reads “Tomb of the ●● family”.
When visiting a grave, people in Okinawa put their hands together facing the door of the grave where the bones lie, whereas people on the mainland put their hands together facing the grave marker. This is another big difference.

Thus, even in the same part of Japan, grave culture differs between mainland Japan and Okinawa. Recently, however, with the spread of cemeteries, many cemetery-style graves that capture the main characteristics of both have become commonplace. With the changing times, the shape of graves is also gradually changing.

Qing Ming Festival (Shi Mei). Picnic at the graveside! Okinawa Ryu’s lively graveside service.


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.

Chinese-style vegetarian cuisine (popular in the Edo period)


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.

mold that grows on rice, etc. as a starter to prevent mold from forming in the soil


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.