Above:  Runners and Maruhakayama Kofun at The Sakitama Ancient Burial Mound Park


 

 

 

 

Tour 

 

A search for Ancient Romance starts from this road.

1.Relocated old house of wealthy farmer

 This house(the Endo) was built in Satte Town by Tonegawa-river in the middle of the 19th century (late Edo period) and later it was relocated here.

 The small, triangular roof on the big roof is to remove smoke and heated air from house. The character at the both edges of the roof means water and they are to prevent fire.

 You can see a boat on the ceiling. This house stood by the Tonegawa-river and this district was often attacked by flood. So, they prepared this boat to escape from the house.

 

 There is the Shinto family altar at the high position of wall. The chief of a family used to pray for the safety and good fortune of his family every morning. 

  

Coffee Break:       Horyuji

Horyuji in Nara, Temple buildings are the oldest wooden buildings in the word. They were built in the seventh century. The timber and structure have helped these flammable wooden buildings last for nearly 1400 years. Horyuji’s structure itself is highly earthquake-proof.

 

2.Kawarazuka Kofun 

 This key-hole shaped Kofun (Length; 73m. 80yards) was built in the middle of 6th century.  Different types of Haniwa were unearthed in the Kofun.  The name was originated from Kawara (tiles for the roof), as the artisans who had produced ”Kawara” lived in the area

 

3. Memorial Stone for Birthplace of Saitama Prefecture:

 The name of Saitama Prefecture originates from Sakitama, this region.

There are two big rivers, Tonegawa River and Arakawa River in this region and powerful family had ruled the area.

 

 The name of Sakitama appeared in the oldest collection of Japanese poetry compiled after 759 AD during Nara period.

4. Haniwa House:

 Haniwas are terracotta clay figures that were made for ritual use and buried with the dead as funerary objects.

 You can experience making Haniwa by yourself in this house.

(1)You are expected to work clay.

(2)You are expected to make clay strings and form a figure.

 

(3)Finally you should make up a face of the figure.

 

 *It will take one and half hours.

 *It is necessary to dry up the figure for a month.

 *They bake the dried figure in a fireplace in this house.

 

 *You will receive the finished the figure by delivery service.

  

Left: Dancing Doll Haniwa 

         You can make this Haniwa by yourself at Haniwa House.

 

 Coffee Break 2:     Origin of Haniwa

 Haniwa was not a clay figure, but alive human being. When the Great King died, supporting followers had to be buried alive with dead the King. This is self-immolation. It is told that when the Empress of the 11th the Great King (later Emperor  Suinin )  was dead, she was young and so were her followers. It was painful for them to have the ceremony, so they used Haniwa.  

 

 

 

 

5. Atagoyama Kofun

This is a key-hole shaped Kofun (Length; 53m.60yards).  It was built in the first half of the 6th century, the smallest in Sakitama Kofun-gun.

6. Tenshoji-temple:

The beginner of the Matsudaira, Tadaakira built five temples (Tenshoji, Torinji, Daizoji, Ryuganji, Tenganji) in Koriyama. This is the most important temple in five temples. Three Lords of Oshi-han, the 11th Lord, Matsudaira Tadakuni and the 9th, 12th Lord were also buried here.

 

 

 Tadakuni had duty of coast guard in Boso Peninsula and Edo-gulf, after Perry, Commodore of U.S.Navy had come to Japan to start business with U.S.A.

7. Lotus pond and Water lily pond:

  Here are two ponds, one is for lotus and other is for water lily.

8. Maruhakayama Kofun

 It is the biggest class circular burial mound in Japan. (Diameter;105m, 117yards,

Height;19m,21yards) Based on unearthed Haniwa(clay images-unglazed earthenware artifacts),it is estimated that Maruhakayama Kofun was built in the first half of the 6th century. The amount of soils carried on this Kofun is the maximum in Sakitama Kofun-gun (cluster). The name of this mound is from the circular shape.

 

 It is probably the second most well-known Kofun in Sakitama Kofun-gun

 

In 1590, Ishida Mitsunari, a staff officer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, placed the head quarters on top of the Kofun to attack Oshi Castle and tried to cause a flood in the nearby areas.  Only 2,000 samurais and peasants of Oshi fought against the troop of 20,000 led by Mitsunari.  Luckily for Oshi , Mitsunari’s project did not work well. 

 

 This story was novelized as “Nobo no Shiro” (The Block Head in the Castle) and made into a movie.  So, the mound became very popular among the tourists these days.  It is said that the street leading from this mound to the parking lot was built on the ruins of the dike (Ishida Dike).The movie shows the nature of Japanese that most Japanese like less powerful group that fights for more powerful group.

Not only Ishida Mitsunari, but also Uesugi Kenshin, Otani Yoshitsugu, and Sanada Masayuki, the supporters of Hideyoshi, climbed the mound to the headquarter. As the following ruler of Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu visted the areas seven times for hunting with falcons.  The areas were called “Oshi Han” at a later time.

 

World History 1:      Invincible Spanish Armada

 In Europe, Portugal became under the rule of Spain in 1580, and in Holy Roman Empire, its capital was transferred from Vienna to Prague in 1583. The Invincible Spanish Armada was beaten by the English fleet, led by the Captain Drake in 1580.

  

 

 

 

 

Near Left:  Inariyama Kofun (Key-hole shaped mound)

 

Far left (taller mound): Maruhakayama Kofun

                                          (Circular mound) 

9. Sequoia trees:

   These trees are species of Sequoia. When the previous Emperor( the 124th generation in his family) and Empress visited the U.S.A., these trees were presented by American Government. So, he, plant scholar delivered the trees to many parks in Japan.

 

Near left:  Sequoia trees

 

Far left mound: Maruhakayama Kofun

10. The Inariyama Kofun

 The excavation and research of the Kofun started in 1968. Many artifacts, such as gold-inlaid sword, metal belt decorations, Magatama, comma-shaped beads and a mirror were excavated there. All of these artifacts were designated as the national treasures in 1983. It is estimated that Inariyama Kofun, a key-hole shaped burial mound (Length: 120m:133yards) was built in the second half of the 5th century.

  

 The artifacts of the national treasures unearthed in Iariyama Kofun were not only Gold-inlaid Iron Sword but also a Deity-and-Beast Mirror, Metal Belt Decorations and some others, and altogether there were 1,200 items included. At that time, the mirrors and the belts would be given to the powerful family of the provincial areas as a symbol of the loyalty by the central ruling family.

  The provincial powerful lords, who had died in from the second half of 5th century to beginning of 6th century, had worn gold accessories, such as crowns, belt decorations, and shoes. These items showed the relations  between the central ruling families and local powerful families.

 Most of these accessories were either imported or made by artisan from China or Korean Peninsula.

World History 2           Keyhole-shaped Kofun

 The Keyhole-shaped kofuns were built at southeast area of Yamato basin in the second half of the third century. The powerful group in the district was

called Yamato court. The head of the Yamato court was the Okimi or Great King would later become the Tenno or Emperor.

 Wowake, made the Gold-inlaid Iron Sword worked for Wakatakeru the Great King (the 21st Emperor Yuryaku)

 

 Baekje of Korean Peninsula had to move their capital from present-day Seoul to Ungjin (present-day Gongju) because of military threat of Goguryeo (475).

 

 In the western world, the Roman Empire faced the “Decline of the Western Empire.” (476)

 

 Wakatakeru the Great King sent envoy to the Southern dynasties in China. (478)

 

 

 

11. The Shogunyama Kofun

 This Kofun was excavated in 1894 by local residents.  Many artifacts, which had been used for the funerals, such as horse armors and equipments, metal flag holders, bronze bowls and a ring-pommel sword, were unearthed in the corridor-shaped stone chamber within the burial mound.  Shogunyama Kofun Exhibit Hall was built inside the mound, so the visitors can see the stone chamber with their own eyes, which is the first facility such as in Japan.  It is estimated that this Kofun  (Length; 90m:100yards) was built in the second half of the sixth century.

 

Left: You can watch the Haniwas on the top of the burial mound.

12. The Futagoyama Kofun

 Futagoyama Kofun is the biggest key-hole shaped burial mound (Length; 130m:144yards) in the Province of Musashi, in which Saitama, Tokyo and a part of Kanagawa included. The Kofun supposed to be built in the end of 5th century. The name of this mound is from the shape that looks like two mountains.

13. Teppoyama Kofun

 This is a keyhole-shaped Kofun (Length ;109m:121yards) built in the second half of 6th century.  It has the corridor-shaped stone chamber and the triple moats were found recently. It is estimated that used andesites were from Gunma Prefecture via Tone River, green stones were from upper area of Arakawa River. This place was used to be a training field of Oshi-han for gun–shooting in the area.

Coffee Break 3:          Ancient Emperors Age                      

It seems that there might be unique two calendars for Ancient Emperors to count their ages. A calendar was used in daily life before they climbed up Emperor’s position. It had two years in present-day year. (For example, the first year starts from present-day January and finishes in June. The second years assigns for from present-day July to December.) This calendar might be called “Ancient Calendar”. Furthermore, there was another calendar for Emperors in their ruling periods. It might be called an “Ancient Reign Calendar”.(If present-day March passes, the first year passed, the second year starts in present-day April, July might be beginning of the third year and if December finishes, the fourth years finish.)

 

 In short, the Emperor used “Ancient Calendar” before to be Emperor and after becoming Emperor, he used “Ancient Reign Calendar”. If we add ages under both calendars, we can know his passing ages. If y1 is age under Ancient Calendar and y2 is age under “Ancient Reign Calendar”, y1/2 + y2/4 equals to his passing ages.

 

 The tenth Emperor, Sujin was 120 years old when he passed away according to the Nihon Shoki (the oldest Chronicles of Japan). This is incredible story. However, his reign period was 68 years and he climbed the Emperor when he was 52 years old. So, his present-day life equals to 52/2 + 68/4 = 43. He was forty-three years old when he passed away and it is very realistic ages isn’t it ?

 

  

 

 

14. Nakanoyama Kofun

 This is a key-hole shaped Kofun (Lenguth; 79m: 87yards) built in the end of 6th century to 7th century.  The Kofun would be the last key-hole shaped Kofun built in this Kofun-gun.

15. Okunoyama Kofun

 

This is a key-hole shaped Kofun (Length; 66m: 73yards) built in the middle of 6th century.  The moat around this Kofun is under the restoration.

16. Sengenzuka Kofun

It is a circular mound built in the first half of 7th century.  (Diameter;  50m: 55yards)

 

There is a Sakitama Shrine on top of the mound and Sengensha Shrine in the halfway up to the mound.  There are poems that were carved on the two standing stone lanterns and these were originally written in the Manyoshu.  This is an important Kofun from the point view of suggesting the ending of Sakitama Kofun-gun.

 

Left: Sengenzuka Kofun & Sakitama Shrine

 

Coffee Break 4:             Manyoshu

The Manyoshu contains some 4,500 poems and is Japan’s oldest extant collection of verse. It was compiled from late 7th century to late 8th century.

The poets ranged from emperors to farmers, garrison soldiers and poor people.

  

  

 

17. Sakitama Shrine/ Sengen Shrine:

 

  Sakitama Shrine and Sengen Shrine locate on Sengenzuka Kofun. It is supposed that clan that had built Sakitama Kofun-gun, was enshrined. Two Sakitama Shrine were registered in Engishiki Document that had completed in 927. Torii, stone gate was built by subordinates of lord of Oshi Castle, Abe Masayoshi in 1676. Now, shrine on the top of mound was named Sakitama Shrine, middle of mound was named Sengen Shrine in beginning of Meiji period and Sakitamahiko-prince , Sakitamahime-princess are main gods.