Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku-jinja Shrine (京都霊山護国神社)

Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku-jinja Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture.

History

In 1862, a Shinto funeral was held by supporters at the Reimei-sha Shrine Shinto funeral place within the territory authorized to be held by the Jishu Ryozan-school's Shobo-ji Temple. The three deities Kukurihimeno Kami, Hayatamaono Mikoto and Kotosakaono Mikoto are enshrined (and three other deities within the aidono building).

On June 29, 1868, an imperial edict was made ordering a shrine to be established on Ryozan in Higashiyama, Kyoto to enshrine the spirits of pro-imperialists (such as the Tenchu-gumi) who were killed prior to Meiji Restoration. This inspired Kyoto court nobles and lords of various domains including Yamaguchi, Kochi, Fukui, Tottori and Kumamoto to come together and construct shrines at the peak of Ryozan and it is these shrines that were the beginning of Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku-jinja Shrine - Japan's first Shokonsha (Shinto shrine enshrining the spirits of those who were martyred for the nation). Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku-jinja Shrine has a history far longer than that of Yasukuni-jinja Shrine.

The shrine's original name was Ryozan Kansai Shokonsha Shrine and it was ranked as a "Kansaisha" and maintained at the state's expense. In 1936, the China Incident sparked the move toward reverently enshrining the souls of persons from Kyoto who sacrificed themselves for the nation, leading to the formation of the Ryozan Kansai Shokonsha Shrine Erection Committee that worked to expand the precinct and construct new shrine buildings.

The name of the shrine was changed to its present name of Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku-jinja Shrine following a declaration made by the Home Minister on April 1, 1939. After the Second World War, the shrine separated from state control to become a religious corporation and part of the Association of Shinto Shrines. During the GHQ (General Headquarters) occupation period, the shrine's name was changed to Kyoto-jinja Shrine but the previous name was restored following independence. The 'Ryozen Rekishikan' (museum) was opened within the precinct in 1970 to exhibit historical materials relating to the Meiji Restoration. In 2002, the shrine cancelled its relationship with the Association of Shinto Shrines.

The deities enshrined at Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku-jinja Shrine include Ryoma SAKAMOTO who was assassinated in Kyoto, with a bronze statue of him standing at the shrine and the Ryoma-sai Festival held on the anniversary of both his birth and death on November 15 of each year to honor his memory and comfort his soul (his birth and death originally took place on November 15 of the old calendar but the festival is held on November 15 of the Gregorian calendar).

As well as Ryoma SAKAMOTO, Shintaro NAKAOKA, Mikisaburo RAI, Unpin UMEDA, Torataro YOSHIMURA and Kuniomi HIRANO are also enshrined.

Major rites and festivals

Saitan-sai (New Year Ceremony): January 1-3

Kigensetsu (National Foundation Day): February 11

Shunki Reitaisai (Spring Festival): April 28

Oharae (great purification)

Mitama matsuri (Soul Festival): August 13-16

Ryoma-sai (Ryoma SAKAMOTO memorial festival): November 15

Shuki Reitaisai (Autumn Festival): October 14

Tencho-sai (Emperor's Birthday): December 23

Showa no Mori

The 'Showa no Mori' was completed in 1997 as a memorial to the Pacific War. The 50th anniversary of the independence of India is commemorated within the precinct and there is a monument honoring the Indian judge Radha Binod Pal, the lone justice on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East to find all the defendants not guilty.

Access

10 minutes walk from the JR West Kyoto Station, Keihan Electric Railways Shijo Station (Keihan), Hankyu Corporation Kawaramachi Station (Kyoto Prefecture) or the 'Higashiyama Yasui' bus stop on the Kyoto City Bus route to Gion.