With its rich and complex history, Japan is a treasure trove of sights to discover. Japan’s identifiable history began in the Jomon Period about 16,000 years ago, and there are excavation sites in Northern Japan where you can learn about Japan’s ancient history. Shrines started to appear in Japan around the early 700’s, the earliest known shrine believed to be the majestic Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine in Shimane Prefecture. Soon shrines and temples from the Buddhist religion that came to Japan from China and Korea became prevalent around the country, some centers of worship in ancient capitals like Asuka and others hidden away at the top of mountains or deep in forested valleys.
Later, an era of trade with the rest of the world brought new changes to Japan. Western-inspired architecture and even cathedrals came from the influence of Portuguese missionaries. Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki was modeled after a Dutch town. And soon after, the Edo era of samurai and Shogun brought a new type of construction, huge fortified castles. Though many castles were destroyed or dismantled after the Edo Period ended, a few original castles like Matsue Castle remain after four centuries.
The modern age of Japan brought the construction of museums and performing arts venues as well as iconic buildings like Tokyo Tower. And today, all of this history is accessible to visitors of Japan through the convenience of a transportation network of bullet trains, domestic flights, and overnight buses.