Thursday, April 15, 2021

Japan Trip 2021 - Part III | 2021年日本旅 ー その3: Yasukuni Shrine Visit 靖国神社

While on our visit to Japan we visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. In all the years I lived in Tokyo and Japan (18 all told) I never visted Yasukuni. Yasukuni is the controversial shrine dedicated to the soldiers of Japan and therefore associated with the fascist nationalists that want to restore the military imperial structure of Japan from WWII.

Every year there are protests surrounding the annual visit by the Prime Minister of Japan to the shrine which large parts of the nation and Japan's neighbors have problems with - particularly those that were treated atrociously by the Japanese in WWII. South Korea is a perfect example of one such country.

Actually visiting the shrine, it is impressive compared to most jinjas, but it not on the scale of Meiji Jingu. Reading some of the history, it is dedicated to many of those that helped Japan transition from a closed country to a leading modern country, winning wars like the Russo-Japanese war at the beginning of the last century. It is this same military prowess that eventually led to WWII and the war crimes that Japan committed.

I re-read the information and it literally is a jinja dedicated to those whom have given their lives for Japan since the Meiji Ishin and not the bushido of the Samura per se. I can see why Japan would want to pay respect to its fallen soldiers. The problem is including war criminals with that. To me, the solution seems easy - just don't include the war criminals. Politically it is probably a little more complicated than that though.

We entered the Shrine area from a side street as opposed to the main entrance as you can see from the pictures below. It is a nice walk from a small park to the main shrine. Of course passed a certain point (closest Torii to the Shrine) pictures were banned. The building where you could pay respects was small compared to the shrine behind it which you couldn't really see at all. I'd love to have a drone or be able to allowed in to see the real shrine.

Check out the pics below.


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