Asuka, Japan

Asuka-Dera is the oldest temple in Japan, founded by Soga no Umako in 588. Umako, head of the Soga clan, had championed the cause of Buddhism since its introduction from Korea several years previously. After defeating his rivals at court, Umako established Buddhism in Japan, and set his niece on the throne as Empress Suiko. This began a pattern of political rule by the most powerful clan, the emperor being reduced to a figurehead, that persisted throughout Japanese history.