Tōkyō WWII Sites
Most of the Pacific War was in the southern islands of Okinawa and Kyūshū. Tōkyō was utterly destroyed in the Firebombing of 1945. Unbeknownst even to locals, there are still a handful of spread out ruins in the Greater Tōkyō Metropolitan Area.
war tourism, heritage tourism, historical tourism, battlegrounds, WWII, WWII Japan, dark tourism
Note: This might be the only Japan WWII tour in Tōkyō in English. All of these sites are extremely rare in this part of Japan.
As you know, World War II in Asia ended with dramatic assaults from the South Pacific up to Okinawa and eventually the island of Kyūshū. The Tōkyō Air Raids devastated the seat of government of the Japanese Empire as well as impoverishing Asia’s most prosperous and modern city – then, there were two nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Prior to 1945, this level of carnage was unprecedented in human warfare. Most of what is preserved in popular memory here are family stories and seven decades of historians trying to make sense of it. Unlike Europe, where a few major battlegrounds are preserved, very little remains north of Japan’s southernmost islands. Even less remains in Tōkyō. That said, if you want to devote a whole day to it, we can probably hit up about three spots in the Greater Tōkyō Area.
I’m currently working on two more Japan WWII tours. As it looks now, I’m thinking about a two night/three day excursion and another much more involved two-week tour. These Japan WWII tours are still in development, so if you have questions or suggestions about this, please contact me.
- Tōkyō Station
This iconic train station bore the scars of war until 2012 when the façade was restored to its original 1914 glory. Dutch-influenced dome artwork was thought to be lost in the war, but was recovered and is now visible again!
- Kamakura Bridge
This is the only site in the capital that still bears the marks of bullet holes.
- Tachikawa Airfield Power Station
This is quite far outside of the city; Occupation Era ruins also exist, but are not easily accessible; dramatic signs of aircraft ordinance is still visible (see the photo above).
- Yasukuni Shrine
There’s a revisionist history “museum” called Yūshū-kan which, for better or worse, gives a certain point of view of WWII. To this day, a small but hawkish, right-wing element of society honors Japanese war dead, including 14 class-A war criminals.
- Chōfu Airfield WWII Hangars
Three hangars for WWII fighter planes remain.
- NHK Broadcast Museum
See the actual vinyl recording of Emperor Hirohito announcing Japan’s surrender to the country, a recording that was almost lost in a last minute military coup. A must see for WWII enthusiasts!
- Tōkyō Air Raid and War Damage Center
I highly suggest centering your entire tour around this museum to get a feel for how this sensitive topic is handled in Japan.
- Yoshimi Tunnels
Originally a cluster of burial chambers from Japan’s Kofun Period (300-600), we can also see a network of tunnels created to hide arms and ordinance factories built for a last stand against the Allied land invasion that never happened.
- I’m more than happy to bring you to a fun restaurant.
- As you can imagine, WWII isn’t a popular subject in Japan. Most people just want to put that part of history behind them. Other than dinner or karaoke, I have no add-ons to suggest.
Starts at ¥35,000
LIMITED INTRODUCTORY PRICE