Imperial Japanese Army: Yasukuni Shrine Enshrinement badges

When a soldier or sailor in the Imperial Japanese Army or Navy died, his family received the Next-of-Kin badge, as seen in my previous two posts. In addition, the deceased was added to the rolls of the war dead in Yasukuni Shrine and revered as an honored spirit. The ceremony for enshrinement was held twice a year in the 1930s and 40s, in spring and autumn. The families were encouraged to send a representative, but of course people from far away couldn’t always do this. The families who attended the enshrinement were given small ID badges, which I think were worn at the ceremony.

However, it is possible that these were not worn (some examples have pin backs, some do not) but merely given as identifying markers. Each badge had two numbers, and I think one indicated the area of the shrine where the enshrined war spirit was and the longer number was for the individual.

Notice that I used ‘I think’ and ‘it is possible.’ To be honest, I am not exactly sure of how this badge was used. I remember seeing a volume published by Yasukuni Shrine that listed the enshrined war dead for that certain ceremony, but that was years ago and I didn’t buy it. I think a single volume was published for each ceremony, so there must be more out there somewhere.

Anyway, here is a badge:

yasukuni shrine war dead enshrinement badge

Actually, two identical badges, probably because two members of the family attended. The top of the cloth has the date, and the bottom blue part is decoration. The badge has a simple cherry blossom design. The reverse is dated:

yasukuni shrine war dead enshrinement badge

The date here is Showa 16 [1941] April. The top of the cloth is here:

yasukuni shrine war dead enshrinement badge

The top line says ‘Showa 16 [1941] Spring.’

One final note. I have some other documents belonging to the same soldier, and they show that he had died somewhere in Showa 13 [1938] or early Showa 14 [1939], so the enshrinement ceremonies in his case took place at least one year after his death.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very interesting. So the shrine did not actually need the remains (the body) to ‘enshrine’ the body? So the enshrinement process is basically writing down the name of the casualty in the temple rolls. The reason I ask is that the J-gov is starting to repatriate the remains of the dead of Iwo Jima. I was wondering how important the actual remains are to the grieving process, the burial process, and the enshrinment process. Is burial important to the Japanese?

    • No body is needed for burial since most Japanese cremate their dead. The remaining portions of bone are important and are usually placed in an urn at a temple. As for enshrinement, that is a purely spiritual matter. No remains are needed for that, though some people may opt for placing their loved ones remains (small bits, that is) at the shrine for a price.

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