62 images Created 5 Oct 2011
Yasakuni shrine is Tokyo's most controversial shrine. It was built to honour the dead of Japan's wars and this has since 1989 included fourteen class-A war criminals. This plus the subsequent visits to the shrine by the recent Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi have caused many problems with China and Korea who suffered badly at the hands of the Japanese imperial army before and during WW2. Every July the Mitama matsuri is held to honour the 2. 5 million soldiers, sailors and airman who have died in Japan's wars. Surviving family members pay for a lantern containing the name of the fallen serviceman and mikoshi are carried into the shrine under large and impressive Torii gates to be blessed. Definitely one of Tokyo's most beautiful festivals it is a surprisingly low key, almost local event that attracts national and international coverage due to the difficult reputation of the shrine and its sometimes myopic recounting of Japan's recent history.