Yasukuni Jinja (靖国神社) is a one of the most prominent Shinto Shrine in Tokyo, adjoining the former Edo Castle in the north. It was a shrine presided over by the Imperial Army and Navy until the end of WWII and still preserves a shrine complex which survived the war up until now. For details about this shrine, see the article on Yasukuni Shrine.The Mitama Matsuri (みたままつり), held at the shrine from July 13 through 16 every year, is one of the most notable festivals held in Tokyo in early summer.
The Mitama Matsuri, literally meaning "the Soul Festival", was founded in 1947 based on a Japanese traditional ancestral ceremony conducted in mid-summer, which is now integrated into Buddhism and practiced as the Bon (盆) or the Obon (お盆) in early August.
After 6pm, more than 30,000 lanterns are lit and 3 million visitors visit the shrine. Many events are held, mainly in the evening, during the period.
The front approach is lit with ten thousand lanterns.
Bon-odori is a kind of traditional dance performed at local communities around the nation in summer. They are held in hundreds in Tokyo alone. Nenbutsu-odori which emerged a millennium ago developed into bon-odori several hundred years after that. At first it used to be performed to greet the ancestral spirits who come back to the mortal world for a short time in summer, though nowadays most people don't know its origin any more.
Bon-odori is performed around the statue of Omura Masujiro during the festival.
The Shinmon gate is decorated with tanabata ornaments.
About twenty thousand smaller lanterns are lit inside the Shinmon gate. At 6pm every night, a memorial service for war-dead soldiers are held behind the Haiden.
Performances at the front approach
Various performances are performed at the front approach and the Nohgakudo stage during the festival.