Yushukan Museum

History of the Yushukan

family crestOrigins of the Yushukan

The name “Yushukan” is taken from the Japanese readings of characters in a passage on the encouragement of learning in the Chinese classic Xunzi. This name reflects the purpose of the museum as a place to become familiar with the stories of those who sacrificed their precious lives for their country, and learn from them.

Calligraphy by Prince Kan’in Kotohito, former Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff
Calligraphy by Prince Kan’in Kotohito, former Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff
(Original copy of the name plaque on the front of the current main building)

family crestHistory of the Yushukan

The idea of constructing the Yushukan was first proposed toward the end of the Seinan War in 1877. In 1879, under the lead of Army Minister Yamagata Aritomo, it was envisioned as “a facility to show respect for the enshrined deities of Yasukuni Jinja and display ancient weapons and armor.” A building in the style of an Italian medieval castle was completed in 1881, based on a design by Giovanni Cappeletti, an Italian architect who had been hired by the Japanese government to teach in Tokyo. The opening ceremony was held on February 25, 1882.

During the planning stage before an official name had been determined, the facility was tentatively referred to as the “Picture Hall and Weapons Museum,” but later, Minister of the Imperial Household Count Tanaka Mitsuaki decided on “Yushukan” as the official name based on a proposal by the scholar Yoshio Kikuhin.

(The Yushukan under construction)
(The Yushukan under construction)
A commemorative stamp used in the museum’s early years A commemorative stamp used in the museum’s early years

Later, following conflicts such as the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and the First World War, the museum was upgraded through remodeling, expansion, and the addition of new buildings. However, the brick structures were severely damaged in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, and had to be demolished.
A temporary facility was constructed in 1924, and the museum was able to reopen on a smaller scale. However, the pace of restoration picked up after the enthronement of the Emperor Showa, with a Restoration Construction Committee meeting in February of 1928. Preparations begin to reconstruct the main building in a “modern Eastern” architectural style, known as the “Imperial crown” style. Professor Ito Chuta of Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) served as the architectural advisor. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in 1930, construction of the building was finished in 1931, and the restoration of the Yushukan reached completion with an opening commemoration ceremony held on April 26, 1932. An attached building was constructed in 1934 to promote military knowledge among the public, which would later become the Yasukuni Kaikan.

(The reconstructed Yushukan)
(The reconstructed Yushukan)
Commemorative stamp Commemorative stamp

During the Second World War, the exhibit rooms near the main hall were damaged, the annex burned down, and books and valuable paintings dating as far back as the end of the Tokugawa shogunate were lost as a result of air raids in May of 1945. In addition, after Japan’s defeat, the Emperor Meiji’s order calling for the preservation of military artifacts was repealed on September 11, 1945, thus ending the Yushukan’s sixty-four years as a museum. The Yushukan building was later used as a head office by the Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Company, whose former offices had been taken over by the Occupation authorities. The company left the building in 1980.

In 1959, the Yushukan’s collection was shown to the public as part of a “Yasukuni Jinja Exhibition” held at the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi department store to celebrate the shrine’s ninetieth anniversary. This event served as a catalyst for the renovation of the second floor of the Yasukuni Kaikan into the “Yasukuni Jinja Treasure & Artifact Museum” in April of 1961. Display of the treasures and artifacts was resumed, and the exhibits were even visited by members of the Imperial family.

Preparations for the reopening of the Yushukan entered full swing in 1980. Repair work was completed in December of 1985, and in July of 1986, the Yushukan reopened for the first time in over forty years, and with the contents of its exhibits enhanced. Later, on July 13, 2002, the main building was completely renovated, the layout and contents of the exhibits were updated, and a new building with a cinema theater was added to commemorate Yasukuni Jinja’s 130th anniversary. The outdoor exhibits, including the Zero fighter aircraft, were moved to their current location inside a glass-walled hall, where they can be appreciated by many people of all ages.

The Yushukan Museum’s Exhibits

View the contents of the Yushukan Museum’s main exhibits.

Yushukan Museum Pamphlet Download

Visitor Information

  • Hours 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
    ※Last entry is 30 minutes before the museum closing time.
  • Closed Days The museum is open every day, with the exception of a few days of temporary closure at the end of June and December.
    See the “News” page for information on temporary closures.
  • Time Required Viewing all of the exhibits takes an average of about 1 to 1.5 hours.
    With twenty-two exhibit rooms and a huge number of exhibits, the amount of time will vary greatly depending on visitors’ personal degrees of interest.
    Please allow yourself enough time to fully appreciate the museum’s contents.
  • Admission Adults1,000 yen
    University students500 yen(including junior college and vocational school students, etc.)
    Senior/junior high school students300 yen
    Elementary school age and youngerFree
    ・Admission is free for members of the Yasukuni Jinja Parishioners’ Association or Yushukan Museum Association.
    ・A special discount is applied to admission for visitors who have taken part in formal worship at the Main Sanctuary, regardless of the number in your party.
    Adults1,000 yen → 500 yen
    University students500 yen → 300 yen
    Senior/junior high school students300 yen → 200 yen
    ・A 20% discount is applied to admission for parties of 20 or more.
  • Group Admission Once your group’s plans (schedule, number of people, etc.) are made, please contact the museum by telephone or fax.
  • Facilities ・Wheelchairs (3 available)Please ask at the reception in the entrance hall if you wish to borrow a wheelchair.
    ・Diaper-changing tables(for infants/toddlers)One simple bed-type diaper-changing table is installed in each of the women’s restrooms.
    ・Handicapped restroomsAvailable at all restrooms in the building.
    ・Wheelchair-accessible elevators and slopes are available.
    ・Service dogsVisitors may enter with service dogs.
    ・Coin lockers (free)Located inside the entrance hall. Lockers use 100-yen coins (refunded after use).
    ・Eating packed lunchesPlease use the free rest area located inside the Yasukuni Kaikan next to the museum.
  • Parking ・Please park in the Yasukuni Jinja Visitors’ Parking Lot.
    ・Rates: 300 yen per 30 minutes (cars); 1,000 yen per 30 minutes (tour buses)
    ・Parking is free for visitors taking part in formal worship at the Main Sanctuary.
    ・As unexpected crowding may occur, please use public transportation if possible.
    ・For inquiries, please contact Yasukuni Jinja Outer Garden Parking Lot(03-3261-1672).
  • Camera Use Please observe the following rules with regard to camera use, etc. inside the exhibit rooms.
    ・Photography, videography, copying, sound recording, etc. are prohibited inside the exhibit rooms.
    ・Camera use is permitted inside the entrance hall and main hall containing large-scale exhibits.
    ・If images are intended for use in news media or periodicals, a request must be submitted in advance.
    ・Requests or inquiries concerning photography or press coverage should be made in Japanese through an interpreter.
  • Notes ・Persons under the influence of alcohol will be refused entry.
    ・Smoking and consumption of food and beverages are only permitted in designated locations.
    ・Sale of goods, solicitation of donations, and provision of explanations or guidance in exchange for compensation are prohibited inside the museum.
    ・Dangerous articles and objects resembling them may not be brought into the museum.
    ・Actions that impede the experience of other visitors, such as the use of mobile phones outside of designated locations or loud chatting, are prohibited.
    ・No animals are permitted inside the building, with the exception of service dogs.
    ・If you encounter any suspicious persons or objects, please inform a staff member immediately.
    ・No press coverage is permitted inside the museum without prior authorization.