TOKYO–A Shinto priestess was killed on the grounds of a famous Tokyo shrine by a man wielding a traditional Japanese sword who then killed another woman before committing suicide, police told media on Friday.
The fatal stabbing happened on Thursday evening, Dec. 7, at Tomioka Hachimangu, one of Tokyo’s largest shrines.
The 58-year old Nagako Tomioka, who was the chief priestess of the shrine – famous for its annual summer festivals – was attacked by Shigenaga Tomioka as she got out of a car. Media reports said the assailant was her younger brother who was 56-years-old.
A woman, 49 – later identified as Shigenaga Tomioka’s wife – was with Shigenaga Tomioka at the time. She attacked the driver of the car with a Japanese sword but the injuries he sustained were not life-threatening.
After slashing the priestess, Shigenaga Tomioka stabbed his wife to death with a sword, before committing suicide, police said.
A broken and bloodied samurai sword and two survival knives were found near the shrine’s premises.
Police continued their investigation on Friday but passersby were seen carrying out their usual prayers at the shrine. Nearby residents expressed shock, and some said they were worried the annual new year and summer events may be cancelled due to the incident.
Authorities declined to comment on the motive for the killings, but media reports said the incident appeared to stem from a family feud. Shigenaga reportedly sent a threatening letter to his sister in 2006, saying he would “send her to hell,” the Sankei newspaper said.
Shinto is the traditional religion of Japan and many shrines dot the country. The Tomioka Hachimangu shrine, established in 1627, has a close link with sumo. The emperor and empress visited in 2012.By Kaori Kaneko
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