Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Documentary: "Yasukuni"

A new documentary film by Li Ying about Yasukuni Shrine has been shown at the Pusan International Film Festival. Japan's war dead from 1868 to the present are enshrined at Yasukuni. This includes so-called war criminals from World War II. Yasukuni is seen as a hotbed for right-wing nationalist politics. Japanese politicians and government officials (including former prime ministers) sometimes visit the shrine which angers and offends many people in Japan and abroad.

These pictures were taken at Yasukuni in the autumn of 2005. Right-wing "black trucks" meet and gather before being dispatched to various areas of Tokyo to blast propaganda and nationalistic music at incredibly loud volumes.

Click on the link below for some background information on Yasukuni Shrine, Enshrinement Politics: War Dead and War Criminals at Yasukuni Shrine by Akiko Takenaka which recently appeared in Japan Focus.

Link to Enshrinement Politics

There is most certainly a military feel to Yasukuni. Welcoming guests from the main entrance is a statue of Omura Masujiro, who was the Vice Minister for Military Affairs after the Meiji Restoration and widely seen as the creator of the Imperial Japanese Army.

There is a museum, Yushukan, attached to the shrine that has an interesting and biased view of history that seems to justify Japanese colonization and imperialism. I certainly recommend a visit to Yasukuni and the museum as an exercise in visual anthropology to see the power of photography in terms of imposing a certain interpretation of reality.

The new film promises to be interesting and controversial. It is scheduled to begin limited showings in Japan early next year. For more information on the film, check out the link below.

Link to review on the Hollywood Reporter website

The film has generated some discussion on Japan Today.

Link to discussion on Japan Today

"Shichi-go-san" is also celebrated at Yasukuni Shrine. This is an important Shinto life cycle ritual for Japanese children where thanks and prayers are offered for children's health and happiness.

After the ritual, a little girl dressed in kimono plays with a canon. I really wonder why parents would choose Yasukuni for shichi-go-san... Anyway, I am looking forward to the film.

1 comment:

Filipina Travels said...

Hi! My name is Dada, I am now in my second year of masters at the University of Tokyo. I found this blog while googling resources for people interested in visual anthropology in Japan. I was also looking for a prospective school in Japan which has doctors course in visual anthro. I am wondering if you can recommend to me a department which offers this course. It would be great too if you know of any professor whom I can ask to be my academic adviser.

Thanks a lot and I hope I'll receive even a short note from you.