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Let Your Mind Wander to Ancient Japan! Five Huge Tumuli in Southern Osaka

There are many tumuli (graves of powerful people or people of high positions), including the world's largest tumulus, Nintoku-ryo Tumulus, remaining in Osaka today. Below are five recommended tumuli, including the Mozu Tumulus Cluster in Sakai City that aims to be registered as a World Heritage Site and the Furuichi Ancient Tumulus Cluster in Habikino City and Fujiidera City.

1. Nintoku-ryo Tumulus (Daisen Tumulus)【Mozu Tumulus Cluster】

This is Japan's largest keyhole-shaped Kofun Tumulus that is said to have been built in the middle of the 5th century. It is also one of the three great tombs of the world. The three-story mound is approximately 486m in length. The round rear part has a diameter of about 249m and a height of about 35.8m, while the front has a width of about 307m and a height of about 33.9m. The mound is surrounded by three moats and there are more than 10 subordinate burial mounds in the area. Roof stones and haniwa (terracotta figures) have been excavated, and replicas of some of the figures that are shaped like people, horses and dogs are exhibited in the Sakai City Museum. There is a promenade that is about 2.8km long in the area and the tumulus can be seen from the 21st floor’s observation lobby of Sakai City Hall, as well as from Mikunin Plaza on top of Mikinigaoka Station.

1. Nintoku-ryo Tumulus (Daisen Tumulus)【Mozu Tumulus Cluster】

Daisen-cho, Sakai-ku, Sakai-shi, Osaka

2. Richu-ryo Tumulus (Misanzai Tumulus, Ishizugaoka Tumlus, Mozunomisasagiyama Tumulus)【Mozu Tumulus Cluster】

This is Japan's third largest keyhole-shaped Kofun Tumulus that is thought to have been built in the early part of the 5th century. Together with the Nintoku-ryo Tumulus to the north and Hanzei-ryo Tumulus, it constitutes the Three Mozumimihara Tumuli. The three-story burial mound is 365m long, and the round rear part has a diameter of about 205m and a height of around 27.6m, while the front has a width of approximately 235m and a height of around 25.3m. It had about 10 subordinate burial mounds, but only four remain today. The structure of the main part of the tumulus and burial accessories remain undiscovered, but roof stones and haniwa have been confirmed. The best positions to see the tumulus are from the place of worship in front or along the moat to the east.

2. Richu-ryo Tumulus (Misanzai Tumulus, Ishizugaoka Tumlus, Mozunomisasagiyama Tumulus)【Mozu Tumulus Cluster】

Ishizugaoka, Nishi-ku, Sakai-shi, Osaka

3. Nisanzai Tumulus【Mozu Tumulus Cluster】

This is a keyhole-shaped Kofun Tumulus that is said to be the most beautiful among the Mozu Tumulus Cluster for the way the front portion spreads out. It is a three-tiered burial mound that is the 7th largest in Japan. It is 290m long and the round rear part has a diameter of around 156m and a height of about 24.6m, while the front has a width of approximately 224m and a height of around 25.9m. Among the three mounds that are thought to have been subordinate mounds, only one, which is on the grounds of Osaka Prefecture University, remains. The structure of the main part of the tumulus and burial accessories remain undiscovered, but roof stones and haniwa have been discovered.

3. Nisanzai Tumulus【Mozu Tumulus Cluster】

3 Mozu Nishino-cho, Kita-ku, Sakai-shi, Osaka

4. Ojin-ryo Tumulus (Konda Gobyo Mountain Tumulus)【Furuichi Ancient Tumulus Cluster】

This is a keyhole-shaped Kofun Tumulus that is thought to have been built in the early part of the 5th century. It is the largest of the Furuichi Ancient Tumulus Cluster and is 425m long. The round rear part has a diameter of about 250m and a height of about 35m, while the front has a width of approximately 300m and a height of around 36m. It is the second largest in the country. The three-story burial mound has stones laid out on the surface and the flat terrace part is thought to have had an estimated 20,000 conical haniwa. In addition to conical haniwa, haniwa symbolizing shields, quivers, houses, and water fowl have been uncovered, as well as lid-shaped wooden items and earthenware in the shape of whales and octopi. There are two concentric moats around the tumulus. Every year on September 15, a ceremony is held where a portable shrine is carried from Konda Hachimangu to the south to Ojin-ryo Tumulus.

4. Ojin-ryo Tumulus (Konda Gobyo Mountain Tumulus)【Furuichi Ancient Tumulus Cluster】

Konda, Habikino-shi, Osaka

5. Nakatsuhime Kogo-ryo (Nakatsuyama Tumulus)【Furuichi Ancient Tumulus Cluster】

This is a keyhole-shaped Kofun Tumulus that is thought to have been built between the end of the 4th century and the beginning of the 5th century. It is 290m long and the round rear part has a height of about 26.2m. It is the ninth largest in Japan and the second largest in the Furuichi Ancient Tumulus Cluster. There are narrow moats around the tumulus and there is a Nabezuka Kofun that is thought to be a subordinate mound near the rear mound. Excavations have revealed cylindrical haniwa and roof stones. It has been confirmed that construction of the mound involved extensive engineering work, such as filling in valleys and piling up soil.

5. Nakatsuhime Kogo-ryo (Nakatsuyama Tumulus)【Furuichi Ancient Tumulus Cluster】

4 Sawada, Fujiidera-shi, Osaka

The ancient tumulus clusters that remain even after 1,600 years are important legacies of Japan's history and culture. We encourage you to visit them when traveling to Osaka.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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