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HistoryTravel

Yasukuni Shrine: A commemoration of Japan’s war dead & tourist spot

The Yasukuni Shrine is a shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, dedicated to those who died in war for Japan. The nearest stations are Ichigaya and Kundashita, and as Yasukuni has numerous offices and universities (Hosei University, Otsuma Women’s Univesity and Nishogakusha University) in the vicinity, many people visit the shrine during work breaks, lunch time and after work.

A bench and pond at Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo
Walking trail around a pond at Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

Yasukuni Shrine is quiet and peaceful, and you’ll often find people working on creative pursuits such as poetry and artwork. Fish swim in the ponds while friendly cats request a portion of your lunch. The shrine, however, is surrounded by controversy. In the late 1970s it honoured several Class-A war criminals, a decision that caused Emperor Hirohito to stop visiting. Subsequent Emperors Akihito and Naruhito have never visited.

Paper lanterns at Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

Written records note the name, origin, dates of birth and death of everyone enshrined. The Yasukuni Shrine also has a monument dedicated to Radhabinod Pal, an Indian jurist who served on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. He is known for having argued the trials against Japan were unfair because they were conducted by the victorious Allied powers, and argued for the acquittal of the defendants on all counts.

Monument to Radhabinod Pal, Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo
Monument to Radhabinod Pal, Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo
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