S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.4 no.1(2018)
Symbolic Transformation of the Yasukuni Shrine: From an Entertainment Site to a Commemorative Space
- Park, Sam-hun
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.4 No.1, pp. 167-197
- Yasukuni Shrine; publicness; commemoration of the war dead; entertainment; yokyō; glorification; kenshō
- The Yasukuni Shrine is a commemorative space for those who died in service of the Japanese Empire. However, the enshrinement of class-A war criminals from the Asia-Pacific War has made critics at home and abroad reevaluate the shrine as a symbolic space for Japanese right wing. Unlike the contemporary conception of the shrine as a commemorative space for Japans past wars, however, this article reveals that the Yasukuni Shrine in the early Meiji era also functioned as a site for entertainment (yokyō), which held horse racing and other various events. When did the entertaining function disappear from the conception of the Yasukuni Shrine, leaving it as a site for commemoration and glorification (kenshō) of the past? My research will show the following: The Yasukuni Shrine in the early Meiji era served primarily as a space for horse racing and other major events, which represented and publicized the new governments civilization and enlightenment policy. However, going through the Sino- Japanese War in 1894 and the construction of the main hall (haiden) in 1899, the Yasukuni Shrine gradually emerged as a site for glorification of the past rather than entertainment. The Russo-Japanese War in 1904 consolidated Yasukunis transformation towards becoming the space for glorification.