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- Adam Blackrock
Adam Blackrock first came to Japan in 1996 for the comics and giant robots, but stayed for the kofun (ancient burial mounds). The longer he stays, the more he realises how much he has yet to learn about the country, its culture, and its history. On his days off, he can often be found exploring a kofun or other archaeological site.
Hokenoyama Tumulus ホケノ山古墳
Location: Nara-ken, Sakurai-shi, Hashinaka Aza Hokenoyama; approximately 20 minutes’ walk southeast from Makimuku Station on the JR Sakurai Line
Located about 250 metres east of the Hashihaka Tumulus, the approximately 85-metre long Hokenoyama Kofun is thought to have been constructed in the mid-3rd century. Like the Makimuku Ishizuka Tumulus, it is another example of the Makimuku-type keyhole tumulus, the round section of which constitutes about two thirds of the burial mound’s length, and as such is thought to predate the Hashihaka Tumulus.
Although most of the square section no longer exists (a narrow road now passes through it), the Hokenoyama Tumulus is one of the best-preserved of the Makimuku-type mounds. While the burial chambers of similar mounds were removed to build anti-aircraft batteries and so on, Hokenoyama’s round section (measuring about 55 metres in diameter) remained relatively untouched, with the three-tiered construction still visible today.
Excavations have unearthed three burial chambers. The discovery of the main chamber received a great deal of attention for its unusual construction: the wooden coffin had initially been laid down in a wooden chamber structure, which was then surrounded and covered by round river rocks. Similar kinds of wooden chambers surrounded by rocks have also been found in the Kibi, Sanuki, Awa, and Harima areas around the Seto Inland Sea, suggesting the influence of these areas on the culture of the people living in the Makimuku area at the time the Hokenoyama Tumulus was constructed.
Another pit-type burial chamber housing a wooden coffin, thought to have been added after the mound’s completion, was discovered near the edge of the mound’s square section. The third chamber was a side passage-type chamber housing a coffin assembled from several slabs of stone, a much later addition thought to date from the late 6th century.
While none of the original burial chambers are accessible, having been reburied, a reconstruction of the second pit-type chamber can be seen by visitors to the Hokenoyama Tumulus. The 6th century stone coffin can be seen at the Museum of the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, in nearby Kashihara City.
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