On my first long walk around the neighborhood, I stumbled upon what I thought was part of the large park that surrounds the Imperial Palace. There were no signs that I could read, but there were a lot of Japanese people taking pictures so I followed them through a huge gateway into what I guessed was some sort of shrine. Behind the buildings I found a beautiful little koi pond surrounded by rocks and trees and benches where people were sitting and eating lunch. Later I discovered that the site is a very controversial shrine called Yasukuni-jinja.

I visited Yasukuni many times during our stay. The shrine was originally built in 1869 to worship supporters of the emperor who were killed during the Meiji Restoration. Over the years, this was expanded to include people killed in subsequent wars, including some who are categorized as war criminals. To me, the little garden at the back of the shrine always felt like a peaceful place to be.

Many shrines have displays of chrysanthemums in October, and these are some of the flowers that were on display on my last visit.