After arriving late in Tokyo the previous night, we woke up a bit early due to jetlag, and went to Tokyo station to exchange our Japan Rail pass vouchers. Great way to waste 2H (counting transport) because the counter at the airport was closed when we arrived. Thankfully it was not a huge deal because what we wanted to see that day didn't open until 09:00 anyway.
As a reminder, I generally do not recommend the Japan Rail Pass, its limitations that disallow use of the best trains are not acceptable in my opinion. I just decided to use it this time, due to the number of times we were going to use the train this time.
We walked around the imperial palace grounds and bit, and then headed towards Yasukuni Shrine. It's a Shinto-style shrine commemorating Japanese war dead with a military history museum on its grounds (Yūshūkan War museum):
A few pictures taken by others:
The museum itself had a some nice displays, but the main reason we found it interesting, is because it depicts the last 150+ last years of history, as written by the Japanese. To be honest, it was a bit troubling at times. While they did mention some things that are known to be true, and not always mentioned on the western side. For instance:
The US did indeed put an embargo on Japan to force them to vacate some countries they were occupying in Asia, and fully knew that Japan not having enough natural resources, would either have to yield or go to war
When Japan says that the US forced them to fire the first shot, at some point, you can kind of agree with that if you take the stance that Japan didn't see wh the US should dictate to them what they ought to do in Asia, or not.
On the flip side, the entire museum was sadly very devoid of anything hinting that Japan had every done anything wrong, or was responsible in some ways for the wars it got involved in. Or other things like:
they make a point to mention that Japan wa an ally against Germany during the first world war, while totally forgetting to mention that they made a pact with Hitler during the second world war.
What's well known as the nanking massacre where over 200,000 non fighting Chinese were killed, or 20,000 women were raped by Japanese soldiers, is mentioned as the "Nanking campaign", and mentions no wrongdoing whatsoever by the Japanese :-
All in all, this entire story was written as Japan really being forced to invade some countries to counter the Russians, and being later victims of WWII. It was a bit disheartening, Germany for instance has done a much better job admitting their faults, knowing how they got there, and how to avoid such mistakes in the future.
cruise missile that used a poor kamikaze pilot as pilot
a submarine/torpedo (the pilot took it manually to its target where it would explode)
sadly, this probably contributed to the number of war heroes they had
After much longer than planned at the museum (3H30 when the long tour was meant to be 2H), we went to the nearby science museum in a non descript building:
Demo on how to limit the effect of earthquakes in buildings:
Watch the demo with the balloons in the video, it's super "cool" :)
We used the rest of the afternoon to spend a bit of time in Akihabara which was nearby, and went to Google to meet Eric for dinner: