Lastly, his tomb shall list and founder in the troughs of grass. And none shall speak his name.

 

 

Here lies, alas! poor Roger Norton, Whose sudden death was oddly brought on! Trying one day his corns to mow off, The razor slipped and cut his toe off! The toe, or rather what it grew to; The part then took to mortifying. Which was the cause of Roger's dying.

“As I grow older and older, And totter toward the tomb, I find that I care less and less, Who goes to bed with whom.”

Doesn’t matter where you go on Okinawa you are always close to some tombs. They are everywhere. Come out of your front door – tombs. Wander around the sugar cane fields – tombs. Hang out on the beach -tombs. I have not found one in my kitchen yet but probably not trying hard enough. As I understand it, the religion on Okinawa is one of ancestor worship. This from Wikipedia:

“Traditionally, periodic gatherings of the extended family occur at the family shinju (haka), or “tomb” (v. inf. for information concerning the traditional dates of these gatherings). The tombs resemble houses, complete with a courtyard (naa), family name markers, and “porch” upon which offerings are arranged. Inside the tomb is stored the cremated remains (funishin) of several generations of family members. Although responsibilities may vary on a case-by-case basis, generally it is the oldest male of a family whose financial responsibility is upkeep for existing tombs and establishment of new tombs once the old are full or should it be destroyed.”

while to my shame I see The imminent death of twenty thousand men That for a fantasy and trick of fame Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, Which is not tomb enough and continent To hide the slain?

There seem to be two main designs that I will call Fortress and Pagoda. Fortress are the one you see in the photos above. They resemble horseshoes. The older ones are made from stone whereas modern ones are big slabs of very ugly concrete. Pagoda style are smaller and basically look like small  er pagodas. They are made from stone, concrete or marble.

A cluster of pagoda style with a huge fortress in the middle.

Frequently on the tombs you find Shisa. These are a pair of dogs that essentially bring good fortune.  You see them everywhere in Okinawa.Read all about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shisa

Wuff!

This is not an ancient tradition that is dying out.  Tomb stores are doing a thriving trade. Invest now.

Wha lies here? John Sim, ye needna' speir. Hullo, John, is that you? Ay, ay, but I'm deid noo.

Here lie the bones of Elizabeth Charlotte, Born a virgin, died a harlot. She was aye a virgin at seventeen, A remarkable thing in Aberdeen.

When Orpheus played he moved Old Nick. But when you played you made us sick.

Thanks to Robert Burns for the epitaphs.

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