As a foreigner, just like it is for many Japanese to be fair, visiting Yasukuni Shrine is a little awkward to say the least, the place of worship’s heady mix of patriotism, politics and the past making it controversial all over the continent let alone just in Japan. An area where a vast array of visitors congregate, if sometimes uncomfortably, to pay homage to certain people or indeed postulations. And it’s a situation that’s possibly even more strained on Showa Day, when the pictures below were taken, as its purpose is purportedly to ‘reflect on Japan’s Showa period when recovery was made after turbulent days, and to think of the country’s future’.
So, with all that reflecting going on, there was inevitably no shortage of nationalists knocking about.
Their speaker equipped vans standing by to take them around the capital bellowing out bile to a population that’s mostly mystified rather than mesmerised by their message.
However, along with the right-wingers was a sensationally turned out singer,Â
a snippet of whose singing can be heard here.
Plus, of course, there were plenty of people praying, including those who are paid to,Â
along with plenty more at an age when memories may have more weight than meaning.
And yet among the pensioners were some who appeared almost as out of place as the person taking their picture,Â
and a young girl understandably more interested in Mickey Mouse rather than memorials.
Yet Yasukuni being Yasukuni, a visit couldn’t be complete without the contrast of an old man who appeared unforgiving but yet was friendly,Â
and another whose fury at either my foreignness, or indeed this photo, was phenomenal.
Out of curiosity what do they say over the loud speakers in those vans ?
It is generally just racist stuff or foreigners must leave kinda messages.
A mixed bag Tank depending on which group it is, but more often than not it’s the likes of old military songs, calls for a return to an imperial reign and lots of revisionist nonsense. All played very, very loud.
I’ve read a little on this. Fascinating to see some pictures of it. Hey, and music too! Thanks!!
Interesting! What does it say on the sweater of the guy playing the instrument ? (Don’t know what it is).
Basically saying that Japanese people should be proud of their country Rob. Not necessarily a bad thing, although at Yasukuni such statements can take on other meanings…
I visited Yasukuni a few years ago (I’m American). There’s an inner part of the shrine that you have to sign in with an attendant to enter; I tried to sign in and of course got cockblocked…
It’s nice to see an article about this without some sort of spin or even opined-commentary on it. So were the Harajuku-looking-teens there in a positive capacity? And while as you say, there are double-sided implications to certain things, I think that being proud to be Japanese is something every Japanese person needs to reclaim and reconnect with.
And funny story about the Imperial version of the flag. I got picked to go to jury selection, for jury duty of course. And I had to get up at an obscenely early hour to take a bus into town to get there on time so I wouldn’t be arrested for skipping out on said jury duty. I was really tired and got dressed in the dark and wound up wearing my shirt from J-List http://www.jlist.com/PRODUCT/SHIRT-CUT1 with the Imperial flag on it. Needless to say, I did not get picked to be on the jury. Thanks J-List! *cheesy grin with thumbs up*
Thanks Karasu. Yes, the Harajuku types were there in a positive capacity. Or at least the fella was. His girlfriend waited patiently while he prayed.
Japanese Words says
Yasakuni seems to be one of those places that will for ever be a symbol against forgive and forget.
Ha ha, did that guy in the last pic kick your arse then, or what?
I can’t believe you get away with taking such candid pics of people. Japan is so laid back. Over here you’d be arrested or shot as a potential terrist or child-eater.
He probably would have done if I’d tried to take his picture again Paul, but he did shout at me. And quite loudly too.
But yeah, old fellas in military gear aside, it’s generally not a problem taking pictures here. Certainly nothing like it seems to be back home these days. That said, I do try to be discreet, although I’m obviously not very good at it…
Ha ha, I’m not following you anywhere on Twitter. You should get a fake beard or something, that would be more inconspicuous.
Nice photos! Yasukuni was my favourite of the shrines I visited in Tokyo. Even witnessed a traditional wedding ceremony there and the man in military uniform shouted and made gestures at me until he saw that I was praying :/ what did it look like I was doing?