Q: Please teach me more about Yasukuni Jinja?
A: Do you know how many Kami are enshrined in Yasukuni Jinja? The answer is 2,466,000 Kami. There are these great many Kami in your presence when your worship at Yasukuni Jinja. Allow me to speak about these Kami.
Among them are such historical figures as Sanai Hashimoto, Shoin Yoshida, Ryoma Sakamoto and Shinsaku Takasugi who you know from history books and television dramas. They had worked for the sake of the country from the end of the Edo Period until the start of the Meiji Period. In addition, the soldiers who offered their lives in service of the country in the wars of the Meiji, Taisho and Showa period are also worshiped as the Kami of Yasukuni Jinja.
There are among the Kami not just soldiers, but 57,000 women who served the country. They are just like you, and among them are even children. These are the Kami of Yasukuni Jinja.
Allow me to say a little about the Greater East Asian War that ended 50 years ago. When the American forces invaded Okinawa they were met by soldiers of Japan, among whom were also intermediate school students. To protect their native Okinawa some 1,600 male intermediate school students fought side by side with soldiers of Japan as the Tekketsu Kinno Tai. They came from 9 schools in Okinawa that included the Okinawa Normal School, the First Prefectural Intermediate School and the Second Prefectural Intermediate School.
In addition, the Himeyuri Butai and the Shiraume Butai composed of some 460 female students coming from seven schools including the First Prefectural Women's High School, Second Prefectural Women's High School, and Shuri Women's High School. These students served as nurses at the front lines. They moved through the battlefields carrying food and ammunition. Nearly all these students perished in the Battle of Okinawa. Now resting in peace, they are enshrined in Yasukuni Jinja.
Some 1,500 peoples lost their lives when the Tsushima Maru, a transport ship, was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine while transporting evacuees from Okinawa to Kagoshima. Included among them were 700 elementary school students.
There were also a large number of students who had lost their lives in air raids on the factories that they worked in. Due to the war, these students postponed their studies to help with manufacturing work.
On August 20, 1945, despite the end of the war, Soviet troops suddenly invaded the territory of Japan. Under siege, a female telephone operator in Maoka of Karafuto (Sakhalin) ended her report: "Everyone, this is our last and final transmission. Goodbye to you all." Shortly thereafter the female operators took their own lives.
Among the Kami of Yasukuni Jinja are military nurses who in their red cross insignia uniforms worked gallantly in the face of air raids on the homeland to save the wounded. They were "the mothers and sisters of the battlefield." In addition, the workers on the military transport ships who perished as their ships carrying supplies to the South Pacific were sent to the bottom of the seas, the military correspondents and cameramen felled by enemy fire while working at the front--they are noble souls who offered their lives for their motherland. They are revered as the Kami of Yasukuni Jinja.
Moreover, there were those who gave up their lives after the end of the Great East Asian War, taking upon themselves the responsibility for the war. There were also 1,068 "Martyrs of Showa" who were cruelly and unjustly tried as war criminals by a sham-like tribunal of the Allied forces (United States, England, the Netherlands, China and others). These martyrs are also the Kami of Yasukuni Jinja.
Yasukuni Jinja is a place of worship for all people of Japan. I hope you now know about the Kami enshrined here.
The Kami of Yasukuni Jinja offered up their lives in battle with prayers for the eternal independence and peace of Japan, and the sincere wish that wonderful history and traditions of Japan, left to us by our ancestors, will continue to be conveyed to future generations.
The peace and prosperity of Japan today is the fruit of the noble work of the Kami of Yasukuni Jinja.
Let us have greater love for "Our Japan" that the Kami of Yasukuni Jinja sacrificed even their lives to defend.
Finally, let us worship at Yasukuni Jinja and offer our gratitude to the Kami and resolve to become fine citizens of our nation. The white doves that fly above the Jinja also await your visit.
(Copyright 2002 by Yasukuni Jinja. This copyrighted material is reposted here for its educational value.)