If we consider the geographical distance and ancient means of transportation, then envisaging Roman influence in Japan seems like an unlikely event. However we are forced to reconsider this outlook since researchers have found glass jewelry belonging to the Roman Empire, in a fifth-century Utsukushi burial mound!
Extensive tests carried out by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on the glass jewelry, discovered at the Utsukushi burial mound in Nagaoka, Kyoto Prefecture, date the items between the first and fourth centuries AD. The researchers analyzed the components of 5mm glass beads, which have tiny fragments of gilt attached to them.
Analysis reports that the light yellow beads were made with natron. This was a chemical used by craftsmen in the Roman Empire to melt glass. The beads also have a distinctive hole in them, indicating a multi-layering technique, very predominant of that era. In this method, craftsmen ‘piled up layers of glass’ and quite often put a gold leaf between the layers. This discovery opens up a whole new set of questions on the influence of the Roman Empire and its extent.[Via Japan Herald]