Historic sites in Japan

If you’re looking to explore Historic Sites in Japan and the surrounding area then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

There’s a fantastic selection of  Historic Sites in Japan and you can plan some great things to see on your trips by browsing our selection. Once you’ve explored the  Historic Sites in Japan you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan out your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook.

Our database of historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other  Historic Sites in Japan, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.
 

Japan: Site Index

Photo by tsc_traveler (cc)

Kiyomizudera

Kiyomizudera is a well-known Buddhist shrine in Kyoto listed by UNESCO.

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Kiyomizudera or Kiyomizu-dera is a famous UNESCO-listed Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The first temple of Kiyomizudera was founded in 780 AD during the Heian period and designated an imperial temple in 805 AD, although much of this was destroyed and rebuilt in the 1630’s, including its Main Hall. The Main Hall at Kiyomizudera is renowned for hanging over a steep cliff.

Each part of Kiyomizudera is dedicated to a different Buddhist deity. The oldest surviving parts of Kiyomizudera date back to the seventeenth century and include the Niomon Gate and the Unatodome stable.

Photo by fletcherjcm (cc)

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu in Tokyo is a shrine to the soul of the first emperor of modern Japan, Emperor Meiji and his wife.

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Meiji Jingu is a sacred shrine to Emperor Meiji, modern Japan’s first emperor following the fall of the Samurais and his wife, Empress Shoken. Born in 1852, Emperor Mutsuhito Meiji ascended to the throne at the young age of sixteen and proved himself a great reformer. As part of his Five Major Policies, Meiji dismantled the Tokugawa government through what is known as the Meiji Restoration.

By the time of Meiji’s death in 1912, Japan had undergone an incredible transformation, becoming far more open in terms of foreign relations and growing in prosperity, much of which was down to Meiji’s policies. Meiji’s wife died in 1914, following which the Meiji-Jingu Shrine was constructed in their honour in the midst of a dense forest and enshrined on 1 November 1920.

Made up of three sections, Meiji Jingu consists of a series of shrine buildings, inner and outer gardens and a Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery. One enters the Meiji Jingu through two of Japan’s largest gates or “tori”, which date back over 1,700 years and bear the imperial seal.

Visiting Meiji Jingu is a very peaceful experience and one imbued with a great sense of the Japanese culture, particularly when traditional tea ceremonies or one of the many wedding ceremonies held there tales place. It’s an experience in great contrast to the rest of the buzzing city of Tokyo in which Meiji Jingu resides. The only real time when Meiji Jingu experiences large crowds of over a million people is on 1 January, when the Hatsu-mōde festival is celebrated there.

Sensoji Temple

The Sensoji Temple was the oldest temple in Tokyo until it burnt down in World War II.

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The Sensoji Temple is a Buddhist temple in Tokyo in Japan. Whilst the original structure of the Sensoji Temple is thought to have been built in 628 AD, making it the oldest one of its kind in the city, most of this burned down during World War II. The current temple was rebuilt following the war.

Sensoji Temple is dedicated to Kannon-Bosatsu, the goddess of mercy, whose statue is housed here, although it is not on display. Legend says that the original Sensoji Temple was founded after this statue was caught by two fishermen in 628 AD.

Today, the Sensoji Temple is one of Tokyo’s most popular attractions.

The Edo Tokyo Museum

The Edo Tokyo Museum chronicles the history of the city.

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The Edo Tokyo Museum in Tokyo in Japan chronicles the history of the city, which was originally known as Edo.

Split into three sections, one devoted to Edo, another to Tokyo and the last named the ‘Comprehensive History Zone’, the Edo Tokyo Museum has over 2,500 artifacts and objects charting the history of Edo and Tokyo, from social aspects to the political and the economic.

English routes run through the museum and it offers a great insight into Tokyo and Japan’s history. One of its more popular exhibits is its reconstruction of the original Nihonbashi Bridge, through which one enters the Edo Tokyo Museum.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is the site of the only building left standing following the explosion of the atom bomb in 1945.

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The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the A-Bomb Dome or the Genbaku Dome, in Hiroshima in Japan was the only building in the city which survived following the first ever explosion of an atomic bomb.

On 6 August 1945, US forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It was the first ever use of the ‘A-bomb’. At the time, Japan was still at war with Allied forces in World War II and US President Harry S. Truman hoped that this action would cause the Japanese to surrender. In fact, Japan would surrender on 15 August 1945, but not before a further such bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki on 9 August.

The atomic bomb at Hiroshima instantly killed around 100,000 people and would go on to kill many thousands more as a result of radiation poisoning (approx 214,000 total with Nagasaki). It also devastated the city. The destruction was so great that the Hiroshima Peace Memorial building was the only structure which remained. Its survival is all the more remarkable given its location just 500 feet or so from the centre of the explosion.

Originally constructed in 1915, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial building is a domed structure which served as an office building for businesses as well as the Japanese government during the war.

Today, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial building forms part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park which also includes a museum. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Nagasaki Peace Park

The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bombing of this Japanese city by American forces in World War II.

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The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bombing of this Japanese city by American forces in World War II. This occurred on 9 August 1945, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima.

Approximately 74,000 people were killed and 30% of the city was devastated, with many more suffering the effects of radiation poising for decades later.

Today, the Nagasaki Peace Park houses several monuments relating to this event, including one marking the site of the bomb’s hypocentre.

Photo by Historvius

Todai-ji

Buddhist Temple complex; UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Consisting of the largest wooden building in the world, the temple complex is also home to the world's biggest bronze statue of the Buddha. The temple is the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism.

This article is a stub and is currently being expanded by our editorial team.

Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum is a museum of culture and history housing national treasures from Japan and the Far East.

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The Tokyo National Museum (Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan) houses national treasures from Japan and around the Far East and Asia.

Its archaeological finds range from Japanese artwork and archaeological pieces to artefacts from Egypt and India. It also has a collection known as the Horyuji Treasures, made up of over 300 pieces of Buddhist art. The exhibits at the Tokyo National Museum are arranged by category.

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito (cc)

Yasukuni Shrine

The Yasukuni Shrine is a sacred temple in Kudan erected by Emperor Meiji in 1869 coupled with a military museum.

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The Yasukuni Shrine was originally established by the first emperor of modern Japan, Emperor Meiji in 1869 in honour of those who fought and died for the country. Approximately 2,500,000 names are enshrined at Yasukuni, amongst them the casualties of wars since 1853, including the Boshin War, the Seinan War, the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars, World War I, the Manchurian Incident, the China Incident and World War II, known in Japan as the Greater East Asian War.

The Yasukuni Shrine follows the traditional Japanese customs of offerings to the dead such as food and ceremonies of appreciation. The Yasukuni Shrine treats every one of the names enshrined there equally, worshipping them as divinities.

The Yasukuni Shrine is part of a six hectare precinct and the shrine itself is surrounded by statues and commemorations to other victims such as war widows, the kamikaze pilots and animals.

Near Yasukuni stands the Yushukan Museum, one of Japan’s war museums and often a subject of controversy for foreign visitors due to its portrayal of World War II. The English translations here are less comprehensive than they might have been, but overall it is fascinating, covering Japanese military history dating back to the days of the Samurai.