Background Image

Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社)

The Imperial Shrine of Yasukuni, informally known as the Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社 or 靖國神社 Yasukuni Jinja), is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It was founded by Emperor Meiji and commemorates those who died in service of the Empire of Japan, which existed from the Meiji Restoration of 1869 until the nation was renamed during the Allied occupation in 1947. The shrine's purpose has been expanded over the years to include those who died in the wars involving Japan spanning from the entire Meiji and Taishō period, and lesser part of the Shōwa period.

The shrine lists the names, origins, birthdates, and places of death of 2,466,532 people and animals. Among those are 1,068 considered war criminals, 14 of whom are considered A-Class (leading to the Yasukuni controversies). Another memorial at the Honden building commemorates anyone who died on behalf of the Japanese empire, but includes Koreans and Taiwanese who served Japan at the time. In addition, the Chinreisha building is a shrine built to inter the souls of all the people who died during WWII, regardless of their nationality. it is located directly south of the Yasukuni Honden.

Annual celebrations
January 1: 0 a.m. Wakamizu Hōten (若水奉奠) 8 a.m. Shinnensai (新年祭, New Year's festival)
January 2: Futsukasai (二日祭)
January 7: Shōwa-tennō Musashino no Misasagi Yōhai-shiki (昭和天皇 武蔵野陵 遙拝式) (Service of worshipping toward Musashi Imperial Graveyard's Musashino no Misasagi, which is the Imperial mausoleum of the Shōwa Emperor)
January 30: Kōmei-tennō Nochi no Tsukinowa no Higashi no Misasagi Yōhai-shiki (孝明天皇 後月輪東山陵 遙拝式) (Service of worshipping toward Nochi no Tsukinowa no Higashi no Misasagi, which is the mausoleum of Emperor Kōmei)
February 11: Kenkoku Kinensai (建國記念祭) (National Foundation Day)—Anniversary of the day on which Japan's first Emperor, Emperor Jimmu, is said to have founded the Japanese nation.
February 17: Kinensai (祈年祭, spring festival for harvest)
April 21–23: Shunki Reitaisai (春季例大祭, annual spring festival)April 21: Kiyoharai (清祓, Purifying ceremony) April 22: Tojitsusai (当日祭) April 19: Daifutsukasai (第二日祭), Naorai (直会, feast)
April 29: Showasai (昭和祭, Showa Festival) — Emperor Showa's birthday
June 29: 10 a.m. Gosoritsu Kinenbisai (御創立記念日祭) (Founding Day) Commemoration of the founding of Yasukuni Jinja 2 p.m. Kenei Hikō-shiki (献詠披講式)
June 30: Ooharaeshiki (大祓式, Grand Purification Ceremony)
July 13–16: Mitama Matsuri (みたままつり) (Mitama Festival)— A mid-summer celebration of the spirits of the ancestors. The entry walk is decorated with 40 foot high walls of more than 30,000 lanterns, and thousands of visitors come to pay respects to their lost relatives and friends.July 13: Zenyasai (前夜祭) July 14: Daiichi-yasai (第一夜祭) July 15: Daini-yasai (第二夜祭) July 16: Daisan-yasai (第三夜祭)
July 30: Meiji Tennō Fushimi Momoyama no Misasagi Yoōhai-shiki (明治天皇 伏見桃山陵 遙拝式) (Service of worshipping toward Fushimi Momoyama no Misasagi, which is the mausoleum of Emperor Meiji)
October 17: Jingu Kannamesai Yoōhai-shiki (神宮神嘗祭遙拝式) (Service of worshipping toward Ise Jingū Kannamesai)
October 17–20: Shuki Reitaisai (秋季例大祭) (annual autumn festival)October 17: Kiyoharai (清祓) (Purifying ceremony), Rinjitaisai (臨時大祭) October 18: Tōjitsusai (当日祭) October 19: Daifutsukasai (第二日祭) October 20: Daimikkasai (第三日祭),Naorai (直会) (feast)
November 3: Meijisai (明治祭) (Emperor Meiji's birthday)
November 23: Niinamesai (新嘗祭) (Festival of First Fruits)
December 23: Tenno Gotanshin Hoshukusai (天皇御誕辰奉祝祭) (birthday of the current emperor)
December 25: Taishō-tennō Tama-no-Misasagi Yōohai-shiki (大正天皇 多摩陵 遙拝式) (Worship of Tama-no-misasagi for Emperor Taishō), Susuharaishiki (Sweeping soot ceremony)
December 31: Ooharaeshiki (大祓式) (Grand Purification Ceremony), Joyasai (除夜祭) (Year-End Ritual)
The first, 11th and 21st day of each month: Tukinamisai (月次祭)
Every day: Asa Mikesai, (朝御饌祭), Yu Mikesai (夕御饌祭), Eitai Kagurasai (永代神楽祭) (Perpetual Kagura festival), Meinichisai, (命日祭)

Shrine structures
On the shrine grounds, there are several important religious structures. The shrine's haiden, Yasukuni's main prayer hall where worshipers come to pray, was originally built in 1901 in styles of Irimoya-zukuri, Hirairi, and Doubanbuki (copper roofing) in order to allow patrons to pay their respects and make offerings. This building's roof was renovated in 1989. The white screens hanging off the ceiling are changed to purple ones on ceremonial occasions.

The honden is the main shrine where Yasukuni's enshrined deities reside. Built in 1872 and refurbished in 1989, it is where the shrine's priests perform Shinto rituals. The building is generally closed to the public.

The building located on the right side of haiden is the Sanshuden (参集殿) (Assembly Hall), which was rebuilt in 2004. Reception and waiting rooms are available for individuals and groups who wish to worship in the Main Shrine.

The building located directly behind the Sanshuden is the Tochakuden (到着殿) (Reception Hall).

The building located directly behind the honden is known as the Reijibo Hōanden (霊璽簿奉安殿) (Repository for the Symbolic Registers of Divinities) built in styles of Kirizuma-zukuri, Hirairi, and Doubanbuki. It houses the Symbolic Registry of Divinities (霊璽簿 Reijibo)—a handmade Japanese paper document that lists the names of all the kami enshrined and worshiped at Yasukuni Shrine. It was built of quakeproof concrete in 1972 with a private donation from Emperor Hirohito.

In addition to Yasukuni's main shrine buildings, there are also two peripheral shrines located on the precinct. Motomiya (元宮) is a small shrine that was first established in Kyoto by sympathizers of the imperial loyalists that were killed during the early weeks of the civil war that erupted during the Meiji Restoration. Seventy years later, in 1931, it was moved directly south of Yasukuni Shrine's honden. Its name, Motomiya ("Original Shrine"), references the fact that it was essentially a prototype for the current Yasukuni Shrine. The second peripheral shrine is the Chinreisha. This small shrine was constructed in 1965, directly south of the Motomiya. It is dedicated to those not enshrined in the honden—those killed by wars or incidents worldwide, regardless of nationality. It has a festival on July 13.

Torii and Mon (gates)
There are several different torii and mon (門) gates located on both the causeway and shrine grounds. When moving through the grounds from east to west, the first torii visitors encounter is the Daiichi Torii (Ōtorii). This large steel structure was the largest torii in Japan when it was first erected in 1921 to mark the main entrance to the shrine. It stands approximately 25 meters tall and 34 meters wide and is the first torii. The current iteration of this torii was erected in 1974 after the original was removed in 1943 due to weather damage.

The Daini Torii (Seidō Ōtorii) is the second torii encountered on the westward walk to the shrine. It was erected in 1887 to replace a wooden one which had been erected earlier. This is the largest bronze torii in Japan. Immediately following the Daini Torii is the shinmon (神門). A 6-meter tall hinoki cypress gate, it was first built in 1934 and restored in 1994. Each of its two doors bears a Chrysanthemum Crest measuring 1.5 meters in diameter. West of this gate is the Chumon Torii (中門鳥居) (Third Shrine Gate), the last torii visitors must pass underneath before reaching Yasukuni's haiden.

In addition to the three torii and one gate that lead to the main shrine complex, there are a few others that mark other entrances to the shrine grounds. The Ishi Torii is a large stone torii located on the south end of the main causeway. It was erected in 1932 and marks the entrance to the parking lots. The Kitamon and Minamimon are two areas that mark the north and south entrances, respectively, into the Yasukuni Shrine complex. The Minamimon is marked by a small wooden gateway.

Sumo Ring (Sumōjō (相撲場)): In 1869, a sumo wrestling exhibition was held at Yasukuni Shrine in order to celebrate the shrine's establishment. Since then, exhibitions involving many professional sumo wrestlers, including several grand champions (yokozuna) take place at the Spring Festival almost every year. The matches are free of charge.

Yasukuni Shrine | eTips Inc.