Segments in this Video

War Monuments and Yasukuni Shrine (04:16)


Monuments to the war dead are symbolically charged with complex messages, including the Hall for Noble Spirits in Tokyo. Japan's Yasukuni Shrine venerates the military dead from as early as Japan's nineteenth century civil wars.

Japan's War Dead Honored (03:00)

Millions of Japanese soldiers died from starvation and drowning. At the Yasukuni Shrine, soldiers are symbolized by the delicate beauty of cherry blossoms—flourishing but impermanent. Their spirits are incorporated as guardians of the nation.

Spirits of Japan (03:01)

Yasukuni's priests consider themselves guardians of the nation's spirits. The Japanese believe that ritual ceremonies at the shrine keep the spirits of the dead pacified, thus keeping the nation secure.

Importance of Yasukuni Shrine (03:25)

Protests erupt at the Yasukuni Shrine when the emperor visits the shrine. For families, Yasukuni Shrine provides a place where their personal losses are valorized, legitimized, and made sacred.

Yushukan Museum: Monument to Courage and National Pride (03:19)

War relics in the Yushukan Museum convey pointed commentary about sacrifice, honor, and loyalty. Today's young Japanese are not educated about the national commitment and personal sense of duty that led to the Great War.

Yasukuni Shrine and Historical Facts (02:51)

The Museum honors Japanese nurses and Kamikaze pilots in a way that brings to light the personal sacrifices that their generation was willing to make. The War is now seen by the Japanese through a simplified, yet glamorized lens of time.

Japanese Revisionist History (04:51)

On the grounds of the Yasukuni Shrine, visitors can buy books and brochures that promote historical revisionism about all aspects of the War's origins, effects, and conclusions. Each government and each generation will revise Japan's military and national history.

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Spirits of the State: Japan's Yasukuni Shrine

DVD Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine honors and venerates the spirits of Japanese soldiers and officers—including convicted and executed war criminals. This program explores the history of the Shinto shrine, the complexity of its functions, and the controversies generated when political leaders appear there. Interviews with visitors, an inside look at the shrine’s adjacent museum of war memorabilia, and a discussion of what has become known as “state Shinto” create a context in which reverence for the enshrined may be understood. A rare view of Japanese nationalism and the political use of religious traditions, Spirits of the State offers valuable insight into the continuing and contested legacies of World War II. (28 minutes)

Length: 28 minutes

Item#: BVL34475

ISBN: 978-1-4213-1272-9

Copyright date: ©2004

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“The film contains powerful material that should make it a valuable tool for classroom discussion.... The film is appealing visually, the historical material effectively presented, the music well chosen.... The footage moves in ways that should keep students engaged.”  —JapanFocus

“I was greatly impressed with how evenly Nelson portrays the problem of Yasukuni Shrine. The film stimulated very insightful student comments as well.”  —Franziska Seraphim, History Department, Boston College

Recommended by Educational Media Reviews Online.

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Only available in USA and Canada.