HANAMI @Yasukuni Jinja - Kudanshita

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Yasukuni Shrine

Situated 3 minutes walk from Kudanshita Station on the opposite side of the road of Kitanomaru Park, Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated to the spirits of the soldiers and others who died fighting for the Emperor of Japan. It was originally built in 1869 by order of the Meiji Emperor to commemorate the victims of the Boshin War. In 1879, it was declared one of the principal shrines associated with the Shinto faith and the primary national shrine to commemorate Japan's war dead.

Entrance to Yasukuni Shrine is through a massive gray metal Torii (gate), at 22 meters, said to be the tallest in the country. A stately avenue of cherry and ginkgo trees leads to the Hoden , the main building. During the day, many older people can be seen paying their respects to friends and families who perished in wars.

Next to the main building is a war memorial museum, the Yushukan . This museum chronicles the rise and fall of the samurai, the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and World Wars I and II. On display are samurai armor, uniforms, tanks, guns, and artillery, as well as a human torpedo (a tiny submarine guided by one occupant and loaded with explosives) and a suicide attack plane.

The shrine grounds also contain a bronze statue of Omura Masujiro, the first Minister of War after the Meiji Restoration, erected in 1896; two huge lanterns honoring the Army and the Navy, built in 1935; and a doves house, which has about 600 doves. There are over a thousand cherry trees on the Yasukuni grounds, making the shrine grounds a popular venue for the Cherry Blossom Festival every April. The festival attracts over 300,000 people, and features food stalls and an annual exhibition sumo tournament.

Yasukuni Shrine is the most controversial shrine in Japan since 1979, when several class-A war criminals were enshrine here. Visits to the shrine by cabinet members are always a cause of protest both at home and abroad. Some Asian countries which suffered under Japanese imperialism consider the shrine a symbol of Japanese militarism and ultra-nationalism. There have been calls to remove the war criminals from the Yasukuni Shrine, but the shrine administrators have refused to do so.

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Text from Tokyo-tokyo.com

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