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Yasukuni's 'Soul-Comforting' Spring
Fountain at Tokyo war shrine honors a mother's love
"Yasukuni" means "preserving the peace of the nation,” and if peace is what you’re looking for, you can find it observing this serene area at Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社). The Soul-Comforting Spring or "Irei no Izumi" at Yaskuni Shrine in Tokyo is a symbolic tribute to soldiers who died at war, longing for a piece of home.
The memorial is located near the entrance of the shrine and is tranquilly tucked away behind the trees, just after entering the giant Shinto gate.
In the Kudankita district of Tokyo, Yasukuni Shrine is considered a controversial place because of Japan’s roles in subsequent wars after it was built in 1869. This controversy is still relevant, as it was attacked with a small bomb in November 2015. But, no matter your political view, the shrine’s beauty is undeniable.
The “Statue of a Mother Offering Water” is just one area of the shrine. According to the sign accompanying the structure, it was constructed because “many of the war dead longed for their mothers and pure water at the last moment.”
The memorial, built in 1967 and renovated in July 2014, represents a “loving mother offering pure water in an abstract form,” and “the outer wall of this statue represents the simple atmosphere seen in traditional Japanese shrines," according to the sign. Additionally, stones collected from the battle sites are exhibited at the back.
More than 40 law enforcement officials surrounded the bathroom area marked off by caution tape, as journalists crowded round when I went there on Nov. 22, 2015. From one journalist, I heard a brief version of later reports by news organizations such as The Japan Times. A bomb exploded in the toilet of the men's bathroom at the shrine. No one was injured, thankfully.
This was especially shocking coming after the attacks in Paris, coupled with the fact that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world.
Admittedly, I was shaken up by the incident. When I was leaving the shrine, suddenly I veered off the main street when a graceful stone structure caught my eye.
Both somber and gorgeous, the memorial's design is not straight-forward. Part of its beauty is its reflection on the clear water. Please take the time to visit this beautiful memorial and shrine.