Hachiman Jinja

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    Saipan, North Mariana Islands (US Territory)
    Listed: 06/21/2003

    Hachiman Jinja (SP-4-0420) is a Shinto shrine located on the island of Saipan that was constructed during the 1930s under the Japanese administration of the Northern Mariana Islands. This shrine has survived both the World War n battle for Saipan and the intervening years substantially intact and still retains its original structural components as well as the landscape elements that were a criteria for the location of the site. In addition, the landscaping efforts of the current land owner, Mr. Francisco Santos Guerrero, has helped to maintain the feel of the site to this modern day Although no longer used as a place of worship, Hachiman Jinja is an important testament to Japan’s thirty year presence in the Northern Marianas (1914-1944). The construction of shrines in the 1920s and 1930s was sanctioned by the Imperial Japanese government as a means to spread and reinforce "State Shinto". This ideological movement was meant to make the Japanese people, and in this case Okinawan, Chamorro, and Carolinian people as well, "of one mind and one spirit" (www. shinto.org/menu-e.html). Goals also included a sense of unified destiny, a demonstration that the Japanese were uniquely special, and promoting a cult of the divine emperor. "State Shinto" was a key element along with the education system in militarizing Japanese society between 1920 and 1945. "State Shinto" was also important in mobilizing the Japanese people for the military adventures in China starting in 1932 and eventually for the Pacific Campaign in World War II against the United States and its allies. The dedication of this particular shrine to Hachiman (the god/spirit/force of war) seems particularly telling on this point.

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