The Imperial Shrine of Yasukuni, in Chiyoda, Tokyo, is a beautiful spiritual place for remembering those who died in service for Japan. As many as 2.4 million men, women and children, and even various animals, are enshrined here. These people (and animals) lost their lives in numerous conflicts involving Japan spanning nearly a hundred years—starting from the Boshin War of 1868–1869 to the Second World War, including the First Indochina War of 1946–1954.
Those enshrined are mostly military men, but there are also civilians who died while taking part in various activities involving war, such as Red Cross nurses and air raid volunteers, factory workers and those who died in Soviet labor camps and those killed in Merchant Navy vessels, and so on. In addition, Yasukuni Shrine honor thousands of Taiwanese and Koreans who served Japan and were killed in action. In Shinto religion, anyone who died fighting for the emperor is an eirei, or “hero spirit.” The enshrined souls themselves are believed to have transcended into kami or deities. No wonder, the Yasukuni Shrine is a very holy place for remembering, reflection, and prayer.
Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo. Photo credit: Toshihiro Gamo/Flickr