The origin of Yasukuni Shrine is Shokonsha which was established at Kudan, Tokyo in the second year of the Meiji era (1869). Japan at that time was in a process of historically great reformation known as the Meiji Restoration in order to reborn as a modern unified state. Before that era began, Japan had imposed itself a period of isolation for about 250 years and communication with abroad was strictly limited. However, when the United States and other Western nations began to put pressure on Japan to open its doors to the world, decision-makers were polarized into two camps, for and against continuing isolation, and Japan was thrown into turmoil. The Tokugawa Shogunate had retained control over Japanese politics for 260 years. But, lacking the power to overcome this crisis, the Shogunate returned the reins of government to the Emperor. Here, Japan newly started building a modern state, having the Emperor as its center.

However on the other hand, such great reformation caused the outbreak of an unavoidable and unfortunate conflict known as Boshin War, and precious lives of those who devoted themselves to the establishment of a modern state were lost. Emperor Meiji, wishing to honor the memory of those who had died for their country, ordered the construction of a shrine to commemorate these people. The shrine named Shokonsha was established in June 1869. This is the origin of today's Yasukuni Shrine, and it was renamed as Yasukuni Shrine in 1879.

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