With the sights of Tokyo Dome and LaQua at Tokyo Dome City now done and dusted, Ryan and I turned on Google Maps and looked for something green to head towards. (In general, this is pretty much how we quite often selected where to go whilst in the big cities – Simply head for the big green open spaces on the map!).
We settled on visiting the slightly controversial Yasakuni Shrine, primarily because of the possibility of finding a war museum near this massive shinto shrine – which of course meant a lengthy walking journey to Chiyoda, Tokyo. (Seriously, you guys have no idea as to just how many kilometers Ryan and I traversed on foot over the course of our two week long holiday trip!)
The walk through Chiyoda itself was particularly pleasant, thanks to cool overcast conditions, a beautiful mix of towering modern and intricate old buildings, and a lot of greenery all around. We also took care to take a journey through many of the side streets, allowing us to stumble on quite a few pretty cool Japanese sights.
Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine founded in 1869 by Emperor Meiji, dedicated to those who lost their lives whilst in the service of the Empire of Japan.
The spirits of about 2.5 million people, who died for Japan in the conflicts accompanying the Meiji Restoration, in the Satsuma Rebellion, the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, the Manchurian Incident, the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War, are enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine in form of written records, which note name, origin and date and place of death of everyone enshrined.
The Honden (main hall) shrine also serves to commemorate anyone (including non-Japanese such as Taiwanese and Koreans ) who died on behalf of the empire, people such as relief workers, factory workers, and other ordinary citizens.
This then is a very solemn place to visit, with a tranquil heaviness that hangs in the atmosphere.
The massive grounds feature a number of memorials and statues, as well as some truly massive torii (steel, bronze, concrete, wood) and mon gates (hinoki cypress) under which you need to pass.
(If fact, the first torii is the impressive Daiichi Torii, a massive steel arch that was at the time of its creation, the largest torii in Japan. It stands approximately 25 meters tall and 34 meters wide!)
One of the sights I found truly mesmerizing was the tall Statue of Omura Masujiro, which was created by Okuma Ujihiro way back in 1893. It was Japan’s first Western-style bronze statue, and honours Omura Masujiro, the man who is known as the “Father of the Modern Japanese Army”.
All in all, the visit to this massive 6.25 hectare complex was a fantastic, if sobering experience, and definitely worth a recommendation.
(Notice the white gloved policeman bearing down on me. Turns out one can’t actually take photos of this particular building! Oops…)