The spirits of those who lost their lives in service to the country from the mid-nineteenth century through the end of World War II are venerated at Gokoku Shrine. The shrine was built in 1904 on the orders of Emperor Meiji (1852–1912), and today it honors the memory of more than 56,000 people from Miyagi Prefecture.
Japan enjoyed two centuries of peace and prosperity under the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867) following centuries of civil war. However, fears of foreign encroachment contributed to anti-shogunate sentiment in the late nineteenth century. In the social and political upheaval that followed, pro-shogunate and anti-shogunate forces clashed, and lives were lost on both sides. The end result was the Meiji Restoration (1868)—the dissolution of the shogunate and the restoration of rule under the emperor. Japan modernized rapidly in the wake of this political revolution, and later engaged in international conflicts overseas, culminating with World War II.