Yasukuni War Museum, at Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine

Posted on April 23rd, 2016 by:

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Yasukuni War Museum, at Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine:

The Yasukuni Shrine, built after the Boshin War during the Meiji Era, honors Japanese war dead from all its wars including recognized war criminals. Less talked about than the controversial shrine, is Yasakuni’s museum which houses a nice collection of war memorabilia and displays. The gardens and area around the shrine are beautifully kept and are still actively used for festivals and a flea market.  Located in Tokyo close to the Kudanshita and Iidabashi train stations, the museum and shrine are easy to get to.


The grounds leading to the Yasukuni Shrine


The Yasukuni Shrine

Although the main part of the Yasukuni Shrine dedicated to the war dead continues to attract the most attention, there is also a well maintained, more obscure monument in the back of the shrine that honors Japan’s dreaded Kempeitai, its military police force similar to Nazi Germany’s Gestapo.


Memorial to the Kempeitai


Mitsubishi Zero


Japanese Type 97 Tank on display

In front of the museum are old cannons and a monument to Japanese Kamikaze pilots. Inside the 1st floor of the museum visitors are greeted by an A6M Zero, Japanese artillery pieces recovered from the battle of Okinawa and a train that once crossed the infamous Burma-Siam Railroad which was constructed by Allied POW’s and slave laborers.


Locomotive that rode the infamous Burma-Siam Railway

Tickets need to be purchased to enter the museum which starts on the second floor. Tickets can be bought at a machine leading to the second floor escalators. Tickets for adults cost 800 yen (about $7), college students 500 yen, middle and high school students 400 yen and 100 yen for elementary school students and younger.


Japanese Navy D4Y “Judy” Dive Bomber

While the museum’s collection includes ancient arms and armor, documents and manuscripts from all Japan’s wars, the largest focus is on World War Two. Some of the highlights include uniforms that belonged to the Royal Family, a Type 97 light tank recovered from Yap Island, a Kaiten suicide submarine and a D4Y Judy dive bomber. Other interesting exhibits are photographs and letters from Kamikaze pilots and war relics brought back from Pacific islands where the Japanese fought.


Artillery gun from Okinawa. The gun barrel still shows battle scars received during the battle

Most of the exhibits do not have English explanations which make them hard for foreign tourists to understand but overall the Yasukuni Shrine is well worth the visit for anyone interested in Japanese military history and the Pacific War.

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