Home » A photographer’s guide to Yasukuni Shrine

A photographer’s guide to Yasukuni Shrine

What can I say about Yasukuni Shrine?  Located in Chiyoda ward, the Meiji Emperor founded it in 1869.  It is for those who fell fighting for Japan, from the Boshin War to World War 2.  Today, you will find many photographers on the grounds. There is so much there to photograph! 

Yasukuni pink cherry blossoms and torii gate

At 6.24 hectares, it is a big place.  While it is much smaller in area than Meiji Shrine, it has enough to keep photographers occupied.  There are many buildings, monuments, nooks, and crannies.  You won’t run out of things to photograph during your visit.

Yasukuni Shinmon gate
The Shinmon gate.

I recommend entering it from the Kudanshita station side.  At the entrance, you’ll be under a massive 25-meter high torii gate.  The torii marks the start of the 500-meter long ginkgo-lined causeway.  It is a great place to walk in autumn when the tree leaves turn yellow.  

In the middle of the causeway is an enormous pillar upon which is Japan’s first bronze statue.  It is of Masujirō Ōmura (considered by many to be the father of the modern Japanese military).   Continue past and the main hall of Tokyo’s most famous shrines isn’t far away.

Yasukuni shrine and torii gate

What is there to photograph on the grounds of Yasukuni?

This shrine will impress.  Everything is big.  The torii gate on the long causeway towers over visitors, as do statues.  What else is there?  

  • Cherry blossoms – these are all over the place, but they only bloom in spring.  One of them determines when the Tokyo season for the trees starts.
  • Chinreisha – this shrine is for those who fought and died in conflict with Japan.  I have to say it is tiny.  But, it shows that everyone is included (to some extent).  Currently, it is behind a locked gate.
  • Main Hall – this is the main attraction.  It is a beautiful building with great architecture.  Be careful with your camera, as the area is sacred ground in front of its steps.  You aren’t allowed to take pictures there.  The security guards are eagle-eyed and quickly move to warn people.  But, if you move out of that area, to the left or right, you’ll be okay.
  • Military Museum (the Yushukan).  If you are interested in history, it has some great displays.  Entry is ¥1000, but if you don’t want to pay that, you can at least enjoy some exhibits (one of which is a Zero fighter) in the foyer.
  • Mitama Festival – it honors Japan’s war dead and takes place in July.  For the festival, 30, 000 lanterns illuminate it.  Lots of people turn out in yukatas.  They parade mikoshi (portable shrines) along the causeway to the main hall.  It is a big and noisy event!
Yasukuni shrine Mitama festival

When is the best time to photograph there?

  • The Mitama Festival in July.
  • Cherry blossom season in spring (2022 photos here).
  • Autumn is great too.  When the ginkgo trees turn yellow, the entrance to Yasukuni is fantastic.
Yasukuni shrine torri and autum trees

Where is Yasukuni Shrine?

It is easy to find.  The Kudanshita Metro station is a short walk away.  Others that are near are JR Ichigaya and Iidabashi.  Here is a Google map:

Public restrooms


Opening hours

Yasukuni is open from 6 AM to 6 PM from March to October.  From November to February, it closes at 5 PM.  The Yushukan is open from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM (with last entry at 4 PM).

Admission costs

Entrance to the grounds is free, as is the lobby of the Yushukan.  If you wish to enter the museum, admittance is ¥1000.

Yasukuni Shrine sacred pool and cherry blossoms

Is free WIFI available?


More photo spots near Yasukuni Shrine

Wrapping up

Going to Yasukuni is an experience.  And considering how many people might be there on any given day, it is tranquil.  The shrine and its grounds are beautiful.

Zero fighter at Yushukan military museum

If you want to see one of Tokyo’s most important shrines, a military museum, and cherry blossoms, this is the one for you.  Well, you will have to go in spring to see the flowers!  But, there is enough in any season to make it worth a visit, especially with a camera. You can see its website here. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I’ll do my best to answer you.

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