Japanese nationalists at Yasukuni Shrine

Every year on National Foundation Day, a large number of Japanese nationalists gather for a Shinto ceremony at Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine. An event documented on this site in a series of photos last year, and also several years earlier in the snow.

Perhaps surprisingly it’s an unusually sombre affair, which is a huge contrast to how one usually sees Japan’s far-right factions — either strutting about peacock-like, or blasting the populace with ear splitting, hateful propaganda from their speaker-equipped trucks. A ceremony that in total lasts no more than 15 minutes or so, and is conducted in almost complete, reverential silence, along with a hard-edged, but at the same time undeniable solemnity. Elements that, despite the repugnant, archaic views of those participating, and the way they will inevitably behave once leaving the shrine, make the whole spectacle really quite impressive — oddly moving even. Causing this onlooker to briefly, and begrudgingly, respect those paying their respects.

Japanese nationalists at Yasukuni Shrine

Tokyo real-life Mario Kart

Tokyo’s famously efficient train network is a great way to get around the capital, but to really see the city, it’s much better to navigate on foot. The perfect method to explore backstreets, alleyways, and all they have to offer. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, it offers the possibility of coming across one of the many surprises that Tokyo seems to continually offer. Like, for example, real-life Mario Kart.

Tokyo real-life Mario Kart

A wonderfully silly sight that was sadly let down by the overly cautious and not in the least accurate way they took corners.

Tokyo real-life Mario Kart

Rural Japan women

Where they had come from and where they were going was a mystery, although the distances must have been considerable as there was little in the way of buildings apart from those in the background. But the incline, or indeed the cold, didn’t seem to be a concern, as they simply smiled, said hello, and then continued onwards.

rural Japan women