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Burial Mound Mania

Adam Blackrock
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.

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Chiwara Kitsunezuka Tumulus 茅原狐塚古墳 / Adam Blackrock

2013.01.13 | カテゴリー : 未分類 | 投稿者名 :

Location: Nara-ken, Sakurai-shi, Chiwara (Chihara);
approximately 15 minutes’ walk north from Miwa Station on the JR Sakurai Line





 

Located in a small orchard along the JR Sakurai Line, the Kitsunezuka Kofun can just be made out among the fruit trees from the train, a small hill from which a number of large granite boulders protrude. Exploring the site on foot via the narrow ‘frog path’ between the surrounding rice paddies, one finds the granite boulders are an almost totally exposed burial chamber.


 




Given that the soil covering the tomb is almost gone, it is difficult to tell what shape the mound originally had, but it is thought that it was a square-shaped mound with sides of around 40 metres in length, based on the length of the burial chamber (around 17 metres).

 


 

While barbed wire prevents visitors from actually entering what is left of the chamber, the interior can be seen through the entry passage on the southern side, and a large gap in the rear wall on the northern side. Peering through the gap, one can see two lid stones of a house-shaped sarcophagus, one of three stone coffins thought to have been housed in the chamber, based on a number of other stone coffin pieces found within the chamber. Nail-like pieces of metal have also been found within the chamber, which suggests that a wooden coffin (or coffins) might also have been interred here.


 



From the sarcophagi and other artifacts recovered from the tomb, the Kitsunezuka Tumulus is thought to have been constructed between the late 6th and early 7th century. The identity of the original occupants is unclear, but it has been suggested, from the size of the tomb and its proximity to Mount Miwa, that they may have had a connection to the ceremonies associated with the sacred mountain.


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