Yasukuni Shrine Walking Tour, Tokyo (Self Guided)

Founded in 1869, this shinto shrine became known as "Yasukuni" only in 1879. Built to commemorate the soldiers who died for their country and emperor, the Shrine is located in Chiyoda District and covers the area of over 6 hectares. Within the Shrine there are numerous cultural and historic sites such as Japanese War Museum. Take this tour to learn more about Yasukuni.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Yasukuni Shrine Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Yasukuni Shrine Walking Tour
Guide Location: Japan » Tokyo (See other walking tours in Tokyo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Author: ann
Daiichi Torii

1) Daiichi Torii

Daiichi Torii is the first gate of Yasukuni Jinja. It stands 25 meters high and is made of steel. The gate was built in 1921 and is a starting point of the Yasukuni Shrine tour. Placed near the torii are lanterns with the names of patrons who have donated to the Shrine.
Statue of Omura Masujiro

2) Statue of Omura Masujiro

Ōmura Masujirō (May 30, 1824 – December 7, 1869) was a Japanese military leader and theorist in Bakumatsu period Japan. Regarded as the “Father of Modern Japanese Army”, Omura Masujirois put in a great deal of effort into the establishment of Yasukuni Shrine. Soon after his death, a bronze statue was built in his honor by Okuma Ujihiro and placed in the monumental entry to Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine was erected to Japanese who have died in battle and remains one of the most visited and respected shrines in Japan. The statue was the first Western style sculpture in Japan. Ōmura ideas for modernizing Japan's military were largely implemented after his death by his followers such as Yamagata Aritomo, Kido Takayoshi, and Yamada Akiyoshi. Yamada Akiyoshi was the strongest leader out of the four and was mainly responsibly for establishing Japan's modern military using Ōmura's ideas. Yamada promoted Ōmura's ideas by establishing new military academies that taught Ōmura's ways. Yamagata Aritomo and Saigo Tsugumichi also had Ōmura's ideas in mind when passing legislation imposing universal military conscription in 1873. As Ōmura had hoped for, the French military mission returned in 1872 to help equip and train the new army. Although Ōmura died before having the opportunity to enforce many of his radical ideas, the lasting impression that he left on his followers led to his policies and ideas to shape the making of the Meiji military years later.
Sight description based on wikipedia

3) Shinmon

The large wooden main gate leading to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is the Shinmon. It is one of the most beautiful among temple gates in Tokyo.

The Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated to the Japanese soldiers who died fighting in wars. It was first commissioned by the Meiji emperor to honor soldiers who died in the Boshin War. Besides soldiers, ordinary citizens, children and animals who became victims of war are also enshrined. It has become controversial recently because many of those enshrined were war criminals of World War II and is condemned by Asian nations who suffered under Japanese rule like China and Korea. As a result no emperor has visited the shrine since World War II. The complex covers 6.25 acres and the causeway covers four hectares.

There are four Torii gates leading to the Yasukuni Shrine. The main gate or the Shinmon is between the second and the third Torii. It is a 6 meter tall structure made entirely of Japanese cypress wood called the Hinoki cypress. It was built in 1934 before the 2nd World War. The doors have a large gold chrysanthemum crest which is the imperial seal of Japan. The gate was extensively restored in 1994.

4) Nogakudo

The Nogakadu is a traditional form of Japanese farce performed at the National Noh Theater near the Yasakuni Shrine. It has a traditional roofed Noh stage and audience seating spaces.

The first Nogakadu theater was built in 1881 in Shiba Park, Tokyo. It was relocated to the Yasukuni Shrine in 1903. The traditional stages are made from hinoki wood or the wood of the Japanese cypress and resemble the stages used in Shinto shrines for kagura dances. The main stage has a pavilion that is open on three sides and connected by a wooden bridge. The bridge connects the stage with a mirror room which is a dressing room from where actors make their entrance. Open air stages are rare today except for the National Noh Theater.

The National Noh Theater features Noh plays or farces where actors wear masks and use understated movements and muffled voices. The other type of performance at the theater is the Kyogen Play. These are comic plays meant to make the audience laugh. These plays are performed between Noh scenes to alleviate the tension generated by the Noh plays. All performances are featured in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage works list to ensure that visitors see plays with the highest Japanese cultural and historical significance.

5) Yūshūkan

The Yushukan is a military museum in the Yasukuni Shrine complex that shows a nationalistic perspective of Japan’s participation in many wars from the times of the Samurai. It houses an impressive display of military memorabilia and weaponry.

The Yushukan Museum was established in 1889 in honor of the success of the Imperial Japanese Army in defeating the Shogunate. The original building was destroyed by the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 and was rebuilt in 1932. The present collection has become controversial because it describes Japan as a peace loving nation that was forced to enter World War II and occupied several South East Asian countries to deliver them from European colonists. It is visited by locals and members of some Asian freedom groups who looked to the Japanese for deliverance from their British and European colonial masters.

The Museum has a large collection of Samurai war weapons and memorabilia from the civil war that followed the Meiji restoration. There are exhibits and weaponry used in the Russo Japanese War and the Sino Japanese War. Exhibits include bomber aircrafts, torpedoes, swords, guns and a steam locomotive retrieved from Thailand. The gift shop has souvenirs and books about the Yasukuni shrine and the cafe serves recipes that were actually served on Japanese Warships.

Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Horse, Dog and Pigeon Statues

6) The Horse, Dog and Pigeon Statues

Japanese people are known for their respect to the world that surrounds them, that is precisely why animals contribution during the war periods was also honored and statues where completed as a tribute to their help and faithfulness. Statues honoring Horses, Carrier Pigeons & Dogs killed in war service: these 3 life-sized bronze statues were all donated at different times during the second half of the 20th century. The first of the three that was donated, the horse statue was placed at the Yasukuni Shrine in 1958 to honor the memory of the horses that were utilized by the Japanese military. Presented in 1982, the statue depicting a pigeon atop a globe honors the homing pigeons of the military. The last statue, donated in March 1992, depicts a German shepherd and commemorates the soldiers' canine comrades.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Monument of Dr. Pal

7) Monument of Dr. Pal

The monument dedicated to Dr. Pal was completed in 2005 and is one of the newest monuments at Yasukuni shrine. Justice Radha Binod Pal (27 January 1886 – 10 January 1967) was an Indian jurist. He was the Indian member appointed to the International Military Tribunal for the Far East's trials of Japanese war crimes committed during the second World War. Among all the judges of the tribunal, he was the only one who submitted a judgment which insisted all defendants were not guilty. In 1966, the Emperor of Japan conferred upon Pal the First Class of the Order of the Sacred Treasure. Pal is revered by Japanese nationalists and there are monuments specially dedicated to him at the Yasukuni Shrine and the Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine. The monuments were erected after Pal's death. Judge Pal's dissent is frequently mentioned by Indian diplomats and political leaders in the context of Indo-Japanese friendship and solidarity.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Statue of War Widow with Children

8) Statue of War Widow with Children

Completed in 1974 this statue is a tribute to the many war widows, who made supernatural efforts in raising their children after their husbands' death. The monument is a donation from those mothers' children to the Yasukuni Shrine as a symbol of their gratitude.
Yasukuni Kaiko Bunko

9) Yasukuni Kaiko Bunko

Yasukuni Kaiko Bunko represents the Yasukuni archives. Opening its doors in 1999, the archives have a collection of 100000 volumes including reference material that describes the circumstances under which the divinities enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine died, as well as source material for research on modern history. Though tourists do not use to wander around inside of this building, Yasukuni Kaiko Bunko is free to public access and welcomes anyone eager to learn about Yakusuni. It is located right to the left of Yushukan museum.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Shinchi Teien

10) Shinchi Teien

Shinchi Teien is a traditional Japanese garden also known by the name of Sacred Pond Garden. It is one of the most celebrated in Japan. Shinchi Teien was created early in the Meiji era, but was renovated in 1999. Its centerpiece is a waterfall in the serene pond and on its shore three tea-houses are dislocated.
Senshintei, Seisentei and Kountei

11) Senshintei, Seisentei and Kountei

Located in the picturesque and amazingly beautiful Sacred Pond Garden, Senshintei, Seisentei and Kountei represent three traditional Japanese tea-houses, situated right on the shore of the pond. The buildings are worth the attention due to their architecture.
Chumon Toriti

12) Chumon Toriti

Chumon Toriti is the third and the last gate that guards the entrance to Haiden, the Main Hall. The current structure was built in 2006. The tori is made of cypress.

13) Sanshuden

Sanshuden or the Assembly was reconstructed in 2004, providing waiting and reception rooms for those wishing to visit the Honden (Main Shrine). It is located right after the Chumon Toriti.
Haiden, Yasukuni Shrine

14) Haiden, Yasukuni Shrine (must see)

The Haiden is the main prayer hall of the Yasukuni Shrine, a Shinto place of worship in Tokyo built in honor of those who gave their lives fighting for the country.

The Haiden was built in 1901 and it is here that worshippers pay their respects to the departed souls and make offerings. The roof of the hall was renovated in 1989. White screens hang from the ceiling except on ceremonial occasions when purple screens are hung. There is a wooden box at the entrance where offerings are placed.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

15) Honden

Built in 1872, Honden is the Main Shrine of Yasukuni. Here the divinities reside. The Honden was renovated in 1989. The excursions here are with special guide only. Near the Honden is located Tochakuden or the Reception Hall. Behind the Main Shrine is located Reijibo Hoanden or Repository for the Symbolic Registers of Divinities.

Walking Tours in Tokyo, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Tokyo

Create Your Own Walk in Tokyo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Tokyo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa

Religious Sites Walking Tour in Takanawa

Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines dot Japan’s landscape. These temples and shrines are an architectural splendor and many of these can be found in every part of Tokyo. This guide will take you to the smaller Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in the Takanawa neighborhood of Tokyo. Most often overlooked by tourists, these temples and shrines are a beauty and should not be missed.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Best of Asakusa Walking Tour

Best of Asakusa Walking Tour

The Asakusa district in Tokyo is famous for the Senso-ji temple and is one of the few places in Tokyo that retains the old world charm. The temple markets, narrow streets, traditional shops and restaurants provide a glimpse of old Tokyo. It is also known as Tokyo's oldest geisha district. Take a walking tour and live the carnival atmosphere that pervades this place.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Tokyo Imperial Palace Walking Tour

Tokyo Imperial Palace Walking Tour

The Imperial Palace, residence of the Japanese Emperor was once the site of the Edo Castle in the 17th – 19th Century. Located in the heart of the city, it is a vast expanse of green and is surrounded by moats. The palace is open only for two days a year - January 1st and December 23rd. However, walking tours of the inner palace grounds is conducted on weekdays except on special occasions. Prior...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Shibuya Walking Tour

Shibuya Walking Tour

This place is a melting ground for the fashion conscious and trendy teenagers and is lined with trendy shops, boutiques and some historic sites. On Sundays, crowds of young people converge here dressed up in myriad colors and styles to socialize and have fun. Other significant sites here are the Meiji shrine and the Yoyogi Park. Take time off to experience the fun and frolic that marks the place.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Ueno Park Walking Tour

Ueno Park Walking Tour

The Ueno Park, next to the Ueno station is a public park that offers visitors a large number of attractions. The area is home to many of the famous attractions in Tokyo. They are the Ueno Zoo, major museums like the Tokyo National Museum, The National Science Museum and The National Museum of Western Art. This walking tour would provide you an insight into old Tokyo. The museums here preserve the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Ginza Shopping Tour

Ginza Shopping Tour

Often compared with New York's Fifth Avenue, Ginza is a district situated in Chuo, Tokyo. It is known as one of the most luxurious shopping regions in Tokyo. The area is home to big department stores and almost all leading world brands have their presence here. Ginza is also famous for its bakeries and restaurants. The small allies leading off from the main road is lined with galleries...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Authentic Japanese Dining in Tokyo

Authentic Japanese Dining in Tokyo

Tokyo is home to literally a million eating places, so finding a truly authentic Japanese style restaurant with an English language menu can be rather tricky. We have compiled a list of easy to find Japanese style restaurants covering a range of culinary specialties to make your taste-buds tingle...
Tokyo Souvenirs: 18 Authentic Japanese Products to Buy in Tokyo

Tokyo Souvenirs: 18 Authentic Japanese Products to Buy in Tokyo

The list of the delights of Tokyo is long and being exposed to just some of them, at some point, can make one addicted (just as the Charles Winchester III character from the M.A.S.H. series). Still, you can always "prolong" the experience and enjoy the effects of it more, if bring home...
12 Must-Try Traditional Japanese Foods in Tokyo

12 Must-Try Traditional Japanese Foods in Tokyo

Cuisine is an integral part of any local culture, and no trip to Tokyo is complete without tasting the authentic, Tokyo-made Japanese food. This directory offers information about the traditional dishes and drinks available in Tokyo to help visitors better understand the local food culture and make...
Eclectic Bars of Tokyo

Eclectic Bars of Tokyo

Time to tap glasses and share laughs in Tokyo, a city of wondrous variety! In this app is an insider's guide to attractive drinking bars, and places nearby that are worthy experiences (theatres, shrines, shopping districts, etc). Each bar has been carefully chosen throughout this endless...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Tokyo for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Tokyo has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money getting around Tokyo and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Greater Tokyo Pass.

Among other conveniences, this pass allows bearer to explore Tokyo's metropolitan area with unlimited rides on railways of 12 private railway companies in Kanto area, as well as buses of 51 companies in metropolitan Tokyo and surrounding 3 prefectures for 3 days!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Tokyo hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Toshi Center Hotel, The Capitol Hotel Tokyu.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Tokyo, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Tokyo typically costs somewhere between US$40+ and US$120 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Tokyo from the open top of a bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs).

- Attend a traditional tea ceremony, an integral part of Japanese culture, in Tokyo to perceive its sophisticated philosophy and to soak up the atmosphere and cultural highlights of this fascinating city with the help of a local guide on a jam-packed day of sightseeing in Japanese capital.

- Another good chance to absorb Tokyo's atmosphere within a shortest possible time is a 4-hour morning sightseeing tour embracing all of the city’s top highlights including major historic sights, shopping districts and otherwise colorful areas. Ideal for those on a first-time or short visit to Tokyo.

- Forget skyscrapers and transgress into the old-time, slow-paced Tokyo on a 3.5-hour guided walk through Yanaka, the historic part of the city dating back to the the Edo period, replete with charming temples and cherry blossom trees.

- Pedal your way around Tokyo on a 3-hour E-assist bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights and some hidden spots that you otherwise wouldn't have found or reached by public transport, stopping from time to time at some of the sights for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions en route from a knowledgeable group leader.

- No visit to Tokyo is complete without savoring authentic Japanese cuisine. Embark on a night food tour of Tokyo to appreciate the city’s nighttime culinary scene by getting a generous dollop of delectable local treats from selected pubs and restaurants under the watchful guidance of a local expert.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Tokyo, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi, Nikko National Park, Kamakura and Tokyo Bay, or Hakone. For as little as circa US$100 to US$300 per person you will get a chance to discover highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and Japan’s other most famous locations, explore the breathtaking countryside outside Tokyo including one of the best sightseeing spots in the country with lots of hot springs, visit the centuries-old center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship, see the Great Buddha statue, tour the ancient temples and scenic shrines, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Tokyo, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, bullet train (Shinkansen), boat, or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.