Empire Builders Japan: Introduction (01:48)
Many ancient Japanese traditions date back over 1,000 years. This episode examines the history of Japan and its architecture, spanning 1,500 years.
Todai-ji Temple, Nara: 752 AD (05:41)
The Buddhist temple was built on a massive scale with the Great Buddha at the center. A smallpox epidemic and a series bad harvests preceded construction. Shinto helped shape Japanese culture; Kyoto highlights the cultural influence of two religions.
Heian Shrine, Kyoto: 794 AD (03:17)
The shrine was rebuilt in 1895 and dedicated to the first and last emperors to rule from Kyoto. Shinto rituals began over 1,000 years ago. Murasaki Shikibu provided insight to court life in "The Tale of Genji."
Byodo-in Temple, Uji: 1053 AD (04:44)
The Phoenix Hall survived a civil war that destroyed the rest of the temple in 1336. Its founder, Fujiwara no Yorimichi, followed Pure Land Buddhism. Brutal warfare often determined Japan's destiny; the shogun was ruler.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura: 1192 AD (06:16)
The shrine was dedicated to the patron god of all samurai. Yabusame was an important skill. Japan was embroiled in civil war for nearly 150 years; the Battle of Sekigahara was a decisive victory for Ieyasu Tokugawa.
Himeji Castle: 1609 AD (03:34)
Tokugawa's son-in-law received the castle as a gift and expanded it until it became the largest castle in Japan. In 1615, Tokugawa sent an army to Osaka and defeated his last rival for the shogunate.
Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine: 1636 AD (04:00)
Tokugawa's grandson built the shrine around his tomb, deifying Tokugawa as a Shinto god. The shrine became a popular place of pilgrimage. Tokugawa instituted several laws that influenced Japan for 250 years.
Dejima Island, Nagasaki: 1641-1853 (07:07)
Dutch merchants were the only westerners allowed in Japan for over 200 years. They operated a trading post and were confined to the island. In the 1850s, the Tokugawa shogunate opened trade with other countries. Thomas Glover was instrumental in the Meiji Restoration.
Marunouchi District, Tokyo: 1890 AD (05:28)
Daimyo Alley characterized the district 150 years ago. The Meiji government destroyed the daimyo palaces and sold the land to developers; it became a modern business district. Japan became the first non-western military power; World War II conquests were short-lived.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: 1952 AD (05:13)
The nuclear attack on August 6, 1945, killed 70,000 instantly; over 200,000 deaths are directly linked to the bomb. Most of Japan's major cities were in ruin because of conventional bombing. The country rapidly recovered and modernized.
Tokyo Skytree Tower: 2012 AD (03:32)
Experts designed the world's tallest tower to broadcast radio and television signals. Tokyo Station was destroyed in 1945 and rebuilt, symbolizing Japan's 150-year evolution.
Credits: Empire Builders Japan (00:38)
Credits: Empire Builders Japan
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