We will constantly add to this list of historical trails. Follow these links for information and to help you plan your field trips, then head for these historical trails:

Down history lane: what to visit in Kamakura & why

Field trip to Odawara Castle – For best webpage and virtual tour of castles for kids see this page. Otherwise you might also like to visit: Himeji castle, Hyogo more on Himeji castle and its history; Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle and samurai town, Takahashi (one of the last twelve original castles of Japan); Shuri Castle, Okinawa; Gusuku castle, Okinawa; Tatsuno castle, Hyogo; Izushicho castle and town, Hyogo; Hikone castle, Shiga (national treasure); Hitoyoshi castle town, Kumamoto, Kyushu; Hiraizumi, Iwate – Heiankyo (World Heritage contender)

Japan Open-Air Folk Museum

A tour of ninja villages

Shirakawago and Gokayama (World Heritage site)

Takayama and Hida village (World Heritage site)

Nikko (World Heritage site)

Kyoto (World Heritage site)

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima Island, Hiroshima

Izumo Shrine Ise Shrine Meiji jingu (3 of the 4 most important shrines in Japan, the fourth is Atzuka)

Horyuji and Prince Shotoku, (World Heritage site)

Nara, ancient capital Todaiji Nara guide

 A-bomb site, Hiroshima

Heian Japan Zentsuji temple, Kagawa The construction of Heiankyo Mt Hiei, mother of mountains, Ancient Kyoto and Heiankyo

Ise Shrine Ise Shrine guide Meoto Iwa

Kumano sanzen and Mt Koya, Kii mountains, Wakayama, Mie and Nara (World Heritage site)Getting to Mt Koya

Tomioka Silk Mill (World Heritage site) the end of the Silk road in Japan

Iwami-Ginzan Silver Mine ruins, Shimane (World Heritage site)

Japan’s largest statue Hyakushaku-Kannon at Nokogiriyama, Chiba

Heritage of Japan website is aimed at taking kids on a historical walk in Japan. For the moment though, it only covers the Paleolithic and Jomon periods. Below is a listing of prehistoric sites that can be visited on field trips.

TOP JOMON SITES TO VISIT:

Togari-ishi ruins in Chino-shi, Toro ruins in Shizuoka, and the Hiraide ruins in Shiojiri – are considered Japan’s three greatest historic ruins. The other very significant site on Jomon culture and society is the Sannai Maruyama Historical Site. However, none of these are located in the Kanto metropolitan area. Info on these sites are posted below but other sites closer to the Kanto metropolitan areas are posted further down below since not everyone has a chance to travel very far.

THE HIRAIDE MUSEUM, Shiojiri, Nagano prefecture which exhibits the articles unearthed from the Hiraide site known as one of the three major Jomon sites in Japan, is only five-minute car ride from Shiojiri Station. The exhibits range from earthenware and stone tools of the Jomon period (8000B.C.-3000B.C.) to the “green-glazed jars” from the Heian period (794-1192) and folk material from the Shiojiri area. The “Hiraide Site” in Shiojiri is one of the three most important archaeological sites in Japan. In Hiraide Park, you can see ruins, and buildings and storehouses restored from ancient dwelling remnants left behind from the Jomon and Heian Eras. 47 pieces of dwelling remains from the mid Jomon period, 128 pieces of the same kind from the Kofun period (circa 300 A.D. – circa 600 A.D.) to the Heian period and 4 pieces of architectural remains from the Heian period have been found. 49 of dwelling remains from the Kofun period are Japan’s largest ruins. The adjacent Hiraide Archaeological Museum has a collection of 20,000 pieces of earthenware and clay figures as well as a rare exhibit of Gato (an ancient miniature clay tower) that is more than 2 meters high . This museum is just a 5-minute taxi ride away from Shiojiri station. Hiraide ruins are situated in Hiraide History Park which is doted by replicated dwellings and refreshing trees. A perfect place to reflect on the ancient past. Take a trip through the park, and and go on the historic walking trail. Approximately 20,000 ancient clay and stone artifacts (such as earthenware and stone implements) discovered in the area are on display at the Museum. The Museum also houses Japan’s largest clay pagoda from the mid-Nara Era. Location: Shiojiri City Soga Hiraide Tel.: 0263…

TOGARIISHI JOMON ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM (TOGARIISHI KOKAKAN) Well known ruins of a Jomon settlement. The adjacent Togari-Ishi Archaeological Museum houses large collection of materials from this site, including the ‘Venus of Jomon’ (a designated National Property). Archaeological literature is also displayed Chino city 4734-132 Toyohira Chino Japan  (0266) 762270  Phone762700 Access: From JR Chino Station: 20 mins by Suwa bus bound for Okushina-Shibunoyu, From Togariishi-Kokokan bus stop: immediate access. See Link

SANNAI MARUYAMA (三内丸山遺跡 Sannai-maruyama-iseki) 

No study of the Jomon period is complete without mention of the Maruyama site, considered by some to be the pinnacle of Jomon culture, by other experts to be an anomaly and not representative of the Jomon architectural landscape. The Sannai Maruyama Historical Site in Aomori City is one of Japan’s largest historical sites dating from the Jomon era. The existance of the site was known as early as in the Edo period. It was revealed by the excavation research made in the Showa period that the site was the ruins of large colonies where people lived in permanent settlements which dated back to the Jomon period (about 4,000 to 55,00 years ago). Many remains of large and small pit dwellings, large and small buildings with supporting pillars, storage pits, mounds of debris, clay mining pits, refuse disposal pits, roads and graves for both children and adults were discovered at the site. The concrete images of the natural environment, people’s lives and village community life have became clear through the excavations conducted several times. The site was designated as a Special National Historical Site in 2000. It is open to public all through the year. Address: Oaza Sannai-Maruyama Aomori-shi Aomori prefecture 038-0000
Phone  017-781-6078  See the Sannai Maruyama website and Aomori Prefectural website. Source of info- Nippon Kichi.

OYU STONE CIRCLE, in Tohoku. dates from the Joyo Era, and is commonly believed to be about 4,000 years old. The Stone Circle is actually a sprawling site consisting of two main circles of stones and the remains of a number of other structures. Numerous important artifacts have been unearthed at the site.See photostream Access info and map: The Stone Circle is close by to the Oyu Onsen and Oide Camping grounds, see the map. At this page, is an article comparing the contemporaneous Stonehenge Circle with Oyu and other Japanese megalithic structures.

JOMON SITES IN THE KANTO AREA:
(1) HONMACHIDA RUINS PARK. (本町田遺跡公園 in Japanese)
Reconstructed Jomon and Yayoi ruins are on display at this park
縄文、弥生時代の遺跡の中心部を公園にしたもので、縄文、弥生時代の住居が一棟ずつ復元されている。 Access: Machida Bus Center Take the bus from Platform No 1 to City Museum Mae stop and then walk for about 5 minutes.
交通    : 町田バスセンター1番のりばから、町41系統で「市立博物館前」下車徒歩5分

(2) JOMON=NO=MURA (Jomon Village) features a reconstructed Jomon village based on the area’s archaeological excavations viewed here. The center aims to educate the public on Jomon lifestyle. Access: Tokyo Tama City. An easy walk from 5 minutes from Tama Center Station or 8 minutes from Tama City Monorail station. See map.

On Sep 22, 2007 Sat: 1 9:30~11:30/ 2 13:30~15:30 There will be classes on how to make Jomon shell jewellery. In Oct, there will be classes on how to make and fire Jomon pottery see this page. Many other events scheduled, please see this page.

(2) IKOU ISEKI KOEN in Adachi ward, Tokyo is the site preserving artefacts dating to the Kofun period (1,500 years ago or so) as well as all the way back to the Jomon period (about 4,000 years ago) – including clay vessels and ornaments largely used in religious ceremonies. Also on display are reconstructed pit dwellings Nearby is the Shirahatazuka Shiseki Koen a historical and cultural property designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Access: 4-9-1 Higashi ikou, Adachi-ku, Tokyo A 20 min walk from the West exit of Takenotsuka Stn on the Tobu Isesaki Line OR a 7 min wlak from Hijirichi no Hashi stop on the bus bound for Toneri Futasubashi or Ikou yoshihama stop of Iriya Junkan OR a 6 min walk from Kitateramachi stop of Nissato Junkan. Source of info

(3) KAWASAKI CITY MUSEUM This museum has many artefacts from Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun periods, but there has been continuous settlement in the area right through to the modern day period. Hence it is a good place to get your “walk through the time machine”. Unfortunately there are no life size pit dwellings, only models and dioramas. You can get to the museum by taking a bus from Musashi-Kosugi Station. Get off at the “Shimin Museum Mae” bus stop. For more information phone 0 4 4 – 7 5 4 – 4 5 0 0.

See our featured field trip to see kofun era artefacts “Back in time to the days of ancient burial mounds

Others:

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF JAPANESE HISTORY at Narita (国立歴史民俗博
物館) Tel:  (043)486-0123  One of the best sources of historical info, marvelous dioramas and artefacts, this museum is Japan’s only national museum for historical science, archaeology and folklore. It houses approximately 110,000 items for the study of these fields, about 8,000 of which are on permanent display. All exhibits are well-arranged in chronological order from the primitive ages through ancient times and on to the modern period providing a systematic view of Japan’s history, culture and folk-lore. Surrounded with abundant greenery, the museum is located in Sakura Joshi Park, renowned for its marvelous cherry blossoms in spring. Access:from Narita Airport: 20 min. by Keisei Line to Keisei-Sakura Sta. (fare: ¥450) and 30-min. walk or 20 min. by bus. For more infor-
mation see its excellent website

TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM (東京国立博物館 Tōkyō kokuritsu hakubutsukan) Japan’s equivalent of the British Museum in London…a gigantic complex that houses almost 100,000 art objects covering Japanese history from the Jomon period to the 20th centruy. Some descriptions are in English. General admission ¥420, university students ¥130, high school and younger free. Open daily 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, closed Mon. Special exhibitions charge separate admission fees. Admission includes access to the following buildings:
Tokyo National Museum, Ueno See this page and the Frommers’ review.

The University Museum,University of Tokyo See their database on Jomon artefacts.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF KOKUGAKUIN UNIVERSITY The museum has a collection of over 80,000 pieces with 20,000 of them belonging to the Jomon period. Address: 4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8440
JOMON SITES ELSEWHERE:
(1) HAMAMATSU CITY MUSEUM is where you can view the Jomon ruins of Shijimizuka, from the latter part of the Jomon period (approximately 3000 – 4000 years ago). The site includes four excavation mounds across an area roughly 90 m in diameter. At the site, remains of living quarters and a graveyard were uncovered, along with what seems to be a central town square, where festivals and ceremonies are thought to have taken place. It is the only site within city limits to be designated as a national historical site (in 1959). Access: Fifteen minutes by bus to ‘Shijimizuka / Sanarudai’ from platform 2 at the bus terminal (north exit of JR Hamamatsu Station). One minute walk from the ‘Hakubutsukan’ stop. 256-3 Kitaterajima-cho, Hamamatsu Tel:  053-45…
(2)  KUBOIZUMI-MARUYAMA HISTORIC SITES (Maruyama-iseki 丸山遺跡)
This is not in the Tokyo metro area, but it is worth a visit. These are the complex of 118 dolmens of the late Jomon period to the early Yayoi period (about 10,000 years ago), and 12 kofuns (chieftain’s tomb) of the 5th to the 6th Centuries A.D. Those remains had originally been located in Kawakubo, Kuboizumi-cho, Saga City, but were relocated to Kinryu Park and then reconstructed due to the construction work of Nagasaki Expressway. The kofuns have either the vertical stone chamber (tate-ana) or the horizontal stone chamber (yoko-ana). The largest vertical stone chamber is 0.73m wide, 1.89m deep, and 0.76m tall. A lot of articles such as iron swords, iron spear, knives, yariganna (spear-like shaped plainer), and magatama (curved beads) were excavated from the stone burial chambers. We can learn a lot about the changes in kofun building from the 5th to the 6th Centuries from these excavated articles. Maruyama Historic Site was designated as a prefectural Important Cultural Property in 1984.
Address: Kinryu, Kinryu-machi, Saga, Saga Prefecture, 849-0906

(3) UENOHARA JOMON FOREST, Kagoshima prefecture. Uenohara Jomon-no-mori offers exhibits of the early Jomon ruins also has a museum, a hands-on interpretive center and is surrounded by a native forest. The Uenohara ruins which were excavated in Kokubu City, Kagoshima Prefecture date from the Jomon period approximately 9,500 years ago and are the oldest and largest ruins of a permanent community in Japan. Kagoshima Prefecture is proceeding with plans to preserve and utilize the ruins as the ‘Uenohara Jomon Forest’. The ‘Uenohara Jomon Forest’ is on a plateau overlooking the Kirishima peaks to the north and Sakurajima and Kinko Bay to the south. It is spread over a large area of some 36 hectares in which deciduous and evergreen forests have been rediscovered. A taste of Jomon period life can be found in the exhibition hall which contains unearthed artifacts and a large theatre. There is also a center for buried cultural artifacts which is a hub of research and information distribution, a ruins preservation hall and various other facilities. The Forest allows visitors to journey into the past and experience the Jomon era, which has been preserved forever. Photos here and more on the archaeological significance of the site here.
Access: For enquiries, please kindly contact the followings:
Uenohara Jomon- no-Mori
1-1 Uenohara Jomon – no-Mori, Kirishima City, Kagoshima 899-4318
Phone: 81-995-48-5701 
Stone Circles in Hokkaido (Osyoro Stone Circle Osyoro Jichinsan Stone Circle Nishisakiyama Stone Circle. For access info see this page.

 

Idojiri’s Jomon Potteries ONLINE Museum

ITAZUKE RUINS, Fukuoka

NAGATO TOWN JOMON RUINS Ancient houses and remains of the Jomon Period (10,000 B.C. to 100 B.C.) are on display. Experience making earthenware, stoneware and bone-or-horn utensils. At Nagato Town, Chiisagata County. Contact town office: tel.  0268-6…, fax 0268-68-4343

TOP YAYOI RUINS TO VISIT:
TORO RUINS, Shizuoka prefecture. The Toro Ruins are one of the most important sites explaining the Yayoi agricultural culture of this particular period. The large-scale ruins consist of dwelling areas, rice paddies, and forests and are thought to have been buried by a river flood caused by a typhoon. Ruins of rice paddies in the Yayoi Period were discovered for the first time. Remnants of Japanese cedar woods neighboring the village, 12 houses, and two storehouses with elevated floors were also found, and farming tools such as wooden hoes, spades, spatulas, and stone knives, building materials, weaving machines, musical instruments, and pieces of earthenware were excavated almost intact. Many of the unearthed articles convey the affluence of life and culture at that time, such as fishing gear, ornaments, a variety of grain and fruit seeds, and bones of birds and beasts. The adjacent Toro Museum explains how life changed from Jomon to Yayoi periods. More info here
Address: 5-10-5 Toro, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka-prefecture BUS: Take the train to JR Shizuoka Station. From Shizuoka Station, exit the North side and board the “Toro-Iseki” (Toro Ruins) bus at bus stop No.4. About a 20 minute ride. / TAXI: Take the train to JR Shizuoka Station.
From Shizuoka Station, exit the South side. About a 10 minute ride. / Car: It is about a 10 minute drive from the Tomei Expressway’s Shizuoka Interchange exit. Parking: Pay parking available on the south side of Toro Iseki Park (11 Buses and 57 cars)
Info at this page.

YOSHINOGARI HISTORICAL PARK northern Kyushu. The largest ruin among all the Yayoi ruins excavated in Japan, Yoshinogari spreads throughout the Kanzaki area of Saga Prefecture (Kanzaki town, Mitagawa town and Higashisefuri village). The Yoshinogari ruins, as the center of the “nation state”, have proved invaluable as a source of understanding of the approximately 600 years covering the Yayoi period. Excellent guide on Yoshinari at this page and access info.

Sendai Origins of Rice Field Trip (in Japanese)

PALEOLITHIC FIELD TRIPS

YATSUGATAKE MUSEUM Jomon earthenware, stone artefacts, and archaeological literature can be seen at the Yatsugatake Museum. Access: 17217-1611 Hara-mura, Suwa-gun, Nagano Pref., 391-0100. Tel.  0266-74-2701 .

See this page for more info on Paleolithic SITES.
KOFUN PERIOD SITES and beyond:

KUBOIZUMI-MARUYAMA HISTORIC SITES are the complex of 118 dolmens of the late Jomon period to the early Yayoi period (about 10,000 years ago), and 12 kofuns (chieftain’s tomb) of the 5th to the 6th Centuries A.D. Those remains had originally been located in Kawakubo, Kuboizumi-cho, Saga City, but were relocated to Kinryu Park and then reconstructed due to the construction work of Nagasaki Expressway. The kofuns have either the vertical stone chamber (tate-ana) or the horizontal stone chamber (yoko-ana). The largest vertical stone chamber is 0.73m wide, 1.89m deep, and 0.76m tall. A lot of articles such as iron swords, iron spear, knives, yariganna (spear-like shaped plainer), and magatama (curved beads) were excavated from the stone burial chambers. We can learn a lot about the changes in kofun building from the 5th to the 6th Centuries from these excavated articles. Maruyama Historic Site was designated as a prefectural Important Cultural Property in 1984.
Address: Kinryu, Kinryu-machi, Saga, Saga Prefecture, 849-0906

KAWAI ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM

For more ideas and suggested field trips, please see listing at our Education in Japan website, click on “Educational Field Trips” on the menu, and scroll down to the bottom to read.