Japan’s historic past: 3 sites you must visit

Here are three sites worth visiting on an historic journey through Japan's past, one of the world’s most unique and diverse ancient cultures.

Japan's historic past: 3 sites you must visit

Yoshinogari Historical Park

Where: On the island of Kyushu in southern Japan

Dating to the period between 300 BC and 300 AD, Yoshinogari Village is the largest settlement of its era discovered in Japan, and has been substantially reconstructed in order to give visitors an excellent impression of how a 2000-year-old village would have looked at the dawn of Japanese civilization.

Meiji Shrine

Where: in Tokyo

Built in the early 20th Century as a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of the Emperor Meiji and his wife, Meiji Jingu certainly makes an interesting and peaceful excursion in Tokyo, beautifully located in the largest forested area remaining within the city. Emperor Meiji was a key influence in opening up Japan to the West. He was a lover of French wine but also a great promoter of Japanese industry.

The ancient ‘Nakasendo’ Road

Where: A scenic rural footpath which for centuries was a major highway between Kyoto and Tokyo

During the 250 years or so of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan between the early 17th Century and mid-19th Century, Nakasendo was used by Japan’s regional feudal lords or Daimyo, who were required by the Shogun to make regular visits to Tokyo, and to bring their families with them effectively as hostages, in order to discourage them from being overly ambitious and attempting to overthrow the Shogunate. In particular the two well-preserved villages of Tsumago and Magome, just a few miles apart on the old Nakasendo road, give the visitor the best idea today of how towns along the route would once have looked as the Daimyo passed by with their grand processions of retainers.

In this episode of Empire Builders we explore the remarkable history of one of the world’s most unique and diverse ancient cultures: Japan.

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