Monthly Japanese Conversation Forum
「History is Alive!」
The Yasukuni Shrine in History and Today
Dr. Akiko Takenaka
Professor of History, University of KentuckyPresentation given in Japanese
We have come to know of Yasukuni Shrine through the political controversies associated with it. But did you know that it used to be a famous site for things modern and Western in the late 19C? And that multi-day festivals took place twice a year through the first half of the 20C, featuring various kinds of entertainment from panoramas to haunted houses? Taking place alongside these festivities were austere rituals where spirits of the war dead were called in from the battlegrounds to be deified at the shrine. Families of the war dead traveled from around Japan not only to grieve at these rituals, but also to take in the festivities and see the sights of Tokyo. Using visual resources such as woodblock prints and archival photographs, I will introduce such varied dimensions of Yasukuni Shrine.
Dr. Akiko Takenaka is currently writing a book entitled: Yasukuni: Nation, Violence, Memory. Dr. Takenaka received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2004.