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Yasukuni Shrine Walking Tour (Self Guided), Tokyo

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.
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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 or 0.7 Miles
Author: ann
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Daiichi Torii
  • Statue of Omura Masujiro
  • Shinmon
  • Nogakudo
  • Yūshūkan
  • The Horse, Dog and Pigeon Statues
  • Monument of Dr. Pal
  • Statue of War Widow with Children
  • Yasukuni Kaiko Bunko
  • Shinchi Teien
  • Senshintei, Seisentei and Kountei
  • Chumon Toriti
  • Sanshuden
  • Haiden, Yasukuni Shrine
  • Honden
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

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.

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