As usual while I am somewhere I feel like I am taking too many photos and then get back and lament that I took too few and didn't get something that thinking back I wish I had.
Eventually what I took will be up on my FLICKR account. For now, since I want to make a post to note the end of the trip, after quick glance at most of them, I pick these two from my visit at the Yasukuni Jinja, the shrine that sometimes gets into the news whenever Korea or China is acting up over past grievances and anger over their past with Japan, particularly in regard to WWII. I don't know if I will ever be able to fully express/share what I experienced at the shrine and the accompanying museum but to keep it simple I will note that this is where modern Japan honors their dead soldiers.
One photo is at the beginning of the day, when I arrived about 30 minutes after opening time. The entry road is totally filled with buses from tour companies. I took the photo standing on a low, maybe 1 meter, wall by a refreshment stand that is right before getting to the inner gate to the court yard of the shrine. Half way back you can see a statue that is roughly in the middle of the entry road. The two horizontal gray lines just behind the statue are the top part of the Japanese ceremonial entry gate, the torii that is at the beginning of the road. It is as far back behind the statue as the distance from where I was taking the picture is to the statue.
The other photo is taken from the beginning of the entry road at the end of the day, near the closing time of 5:30PM. Again can see the statue that is the mid-point. Again at the far end of the road you can see a torii, this time one that marks the inner entry to the shrine. I was standing about 10 meters, 20 some odd feet, in front of the torii that can just barely seen in the photo I made earlier.
So from the scale of the entry road and the fact that it was completely filled with tour buses at the beginning of the day, it can clearly be seen that this is significant destination for Japanese. I went on Monday October 1, which although is a work day, also there is some activity honoring the dead on the first of each month. That activity is not open to the general public, at least not to someone who just shows up. The public spaces and museum were active but many if not most of the people who came on those chartered buses were participating in private memorial services. I could hear flutes, drums and chants/prayers when standing near the shrine. I saw lines of people passing inside the shrine along a wooden fence that just barely allowed me to make out the shadows of the people passing by.
What I saw in the museum was amazing (no photos allowed except for of a couple of pieces in the museum entry hall). Gave me some insight into the warrior culture that carried Japan from the Meiji restoration through to WWII as Japan came to grips with "modernizing" to avoid the Euro-colonialization that touched pretty much all the world.
There are books written about all this, so I'll stop this proto-prologue.
Crap. Back to work tomorrow. Gotta pay rent, yo.