• Staff Report


Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo has announced that it will not allow outdoor stalls to be set up at its festival scheduled for later in July, due to complaints from neighbors over noise and trash.

It’s the first time the shrine has banned street stalls during the annual Mitama Matsuri festival, which dates back to 1947.

The shrine said on its website that no stalls can be set up along the approach to the shrine in its outer gardens and no drinking parties will be allowed in the precincts of the shrine during the festival, which take place from July 13 to 16.

The shrine said several problems have occurred during the festival in recent years, as it became popular with young people. The festival, known for displaying more than 30,000 lanterns along the approach to the shrine, attracted some 300,000 visitors last year.

Last year, some 200 stalls were set up along the approach, selling food and drinks until about 10 p.m.

Yasukuni enshrines the nation’s war dead, as well as convicted war criminals, but media reports say many young people go to the festival just to hang out with friends, get drunk and party until late at night. The festival became popular among them because the shrine, located near several railway stations, is easily accessible and it is held in the beginning of summer, earlier than many other festivals, the reports said.

Police said 11 cases of quarrels and property damage were reported during last year’s festival, and neighbors complained that nearby streets were laden with garbage.