Three people have been killed and another injured at a well-known Shinto shrine in Tokyo in what appeared to be a succession feud, local media said.
The suspect is thought to have killed his sister the chief priestess, as she was stepping out of her car, Kyodo news agency said citing police.
He later reportedly killed another woman, who was part of the ambush, before taking his own life.
A bloodied Samurai sword was reportedly found at the scene.
The priestess’ driver was wounded in the attack, police said.
A longstanding feud
According to local media, the murders were sparked by a longstanding succession feud between the priestess and her brother, named as Shigenaga Tomioka.
Mr Tomioka had himself been chief priest of the shrine having taken over from his father in the 1990s, Jiji news agency reported. However, he was sacked in 2001 and their father returned to the position as main priest, installing his daughter Nagako Tomioka as the second-ranked in the shrine.
During those years, the suspect is said to have sent threatening letters to his sister and was arrested in 2006.
After their father retired in 2010, Ms Tomioka became the chief priestess, breaking with a Shinto shrine umbrella organisation after it failed to rubberstamp the succession, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
Shintoism is Japan’s indigenous religion. The Tomioka Hachimangu shrine dates back to 1627 and is famous for the Fukagawa Hachiman summer festival in August.
According to its website, it was among those to start the tradition in Edo (now Tokyo) of holding Sumo tournaments on its grounds to attract visitors and donations – a custom still common at many Shinto shrines.