Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe escorted Group of Seven (G7) leaders to the Shinto religion’s holiest site on Thursday before a summit covering topics from risks to the global economy to refugees and China’s maritime assertiveness.
Abe greeted U.S. President Barack Obama and other G7 partners one-by-one at Ise Grand Shrine in central Japan, dedicated to sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, mythical ancestress of the emperor.
Led by a white-robed priest, each leader walked across a bridge, took part in a tree-planting ritual, strolled through the expansive grounds and posed for a group photo.
Abe has said he hopes the shrine visit will provide an insight to the heart of Japanese culture. Critics say he’s catering to a conservative base that wants to put religion back in politics and revive traditional values.