The Gokoku Shrine or “the Shrine for the Protection of the Nation” is a shrine dedicated to Japanese soldiers killed in combat. The rite of honoring soldiers killed in combat in Japan dates back to the feudal system period. Every prefecture (district, the Tokyo metropolitan area and Hokkaido) has at least one Gokoku Shrine. The Gokoku Shrine of Miyazaki Prefecture is located in the Miyazaki Shrine Forest which is a large green area where two other shrines can be found: the Gosho Inari Shrine and the Miyazaki Shrine. So, if you visit the Miyazaki Shrine Forest, you can make the “Sansha Mairi” which is the typical Shintoist pilgrimage consisting of visiting three shrines.
This shrine is visited by thousands of people during the New Year’s holidays. Many veterans of the Second World War II visit this shrine with their children, grandchildren and some with their great-grandchildren. During the New Year’s holidays, you can have at the shrine a very hot “oshiruko” which is a Japanese dessert made of small “mochi” (rice cake) in red bean soup which is especially loved in the winter.
After passing below the gateway, you will find on your left-hand side a small museum with objects, letters and other articles left by the soldiers killed in combat. It is really worth stepping in and have a look. After visiting this small museum, if you walk a little bit further, you will find, still on your left-hand side, the statue of a horse. This statue is dedicated to the memory of the animals which were also killed in combat. A little ahead you will find on your left-hand side several monuments for the consolation of the soldiers’ souls.
August 15th is the day of the “Ireisai” which is a memorial service for the war dead. The word “Ireisai” literally means “service for the consolation of souls”. This memorial service is held at the Gokoku Shrines all over the country. It is a major event of the Gokoku Shrine. If you decide to go to a memorial service like this, I would recommend you to wear formal clothes if you can and be very discrete. This will show people around that you are showing respect to the event.
When visiting the Gokoku Shrine you may find beautiful wild Japanese roosters who live in the Miyazaki Shrine Forest.
Personally, I visit this shrine very often. It is less than 10 minutes on foot from my place. When walking around this shrine, I think about the soldiers and how hard their time and their lives were. It makes me think that all my problems are so small compared to what they had to face. Praying for them gives me strength to go on. It is a unique experience. You should try it!
- 護国神社 (Gokoku Jinja) – The Shrine for the Protection of the Nation
- 三社参り (Sansha Mairi) - Typical Shintoist pilgrimage to three different shrines.
- 慰霊祭 (Ireisai) – service for the consolation of souls of the soldiers killed in combat.
お汁粉 (Oshiruko) - A Japanese dessert made of small “mochi” (rice cake) in red bean soup which is especially loved in the winter.
- From the Miyazaki Station: take the train bound for Sadowara, Nobeoka, Saeki or any other one going north on the Nippou Main Line and get off at the Miyazaki Jingu (Shrine) Station. It will take you about 5 minutes from the Miyazaki Station. From the exit of the Jingu Station, you can see a huge gateway across the road (Route 10). This gateway represents one of the pilgrimage entrances of the Miyazaki Shrine. Cross Route 10 and walk all the way to the shrine west entrance. Leaving the west entrance behind, walk around 200 meters and you will reach the Miyazaki Shrine pilgrimage path. Cross it and you will see the Miyazaki Shrine Main Office. Walk past the office. You will find on your right-hand side the “Shrine Bridal” which is where couples get dressed for wedding ceremonies at the Miyazaki Shrine. Walk past “Shrine Bridal” and you will see on your right-hand side the gateway of the Gokoku Shrine. It will take you around 15 minutes on foot from the Miyazaki Jingu Station.
- From the Miyazaki Airport: it will take you about 30 minutes by taxi. Another option is to take the train at the Miyazaki Airport Station and get off at the Miyazaki Jingu Station. According to the train schedules, probably you will have to change trains at the Miyazaki Station.