My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Tsubaiotsukayama Kofun.

   I was in the Kamikoma area of Yamashiro Town on one of my "no plan/getting lost" outings recently when I happened-across something that  left me with a curious taste in my mouth. I was cycling along a lane that bordered the residential area from the forest/hilly area on the eastern side of Route-24
Map Location.
I soon approached a reservoir and, as I was in no particular hurry, I decided to take-a-break and have a banana while taking-in the nearby scenery (there was also a cold wind blowing and the shelter came as a nice respite). I have traveled this lane many times but, on this occasion, I couldn't help notice a narrow track leading-into the bush behind me. Curious, I decided to investigate. 
Map Location.
Before long I soon found myself bush-bashing along a muddy, rutted track through a dense bamboo forest (my kinda' environment). 2km later I emerged into one of the many isolated villages that dot this area.
Map Location.
Unsure of where I was I decided to go in search of a site where I could get a good view of my surroundings. My attention was drawn to a knob (on the right in the image) that would best suit my purposes. 
Map Location.
   To get there I had to weave my way through the many narrow lanes that make up villages such as this.
My destination.
Map Location.
Before long my destination was in sight and, after ascending some steps, I found myself atop my hill which reminded me of One Tree Hill in Auckland City, Aotearoa
Map Location.
From the summit I was treated to a commanding view of the Yamashiro-cho area.
Ikoma-yama (Mt Ikoma).
  In the distance was Mt Ikoma and, in the foreground, was the Kizugawa River. 
Map Location.
To the rear I could see the track I had just emerged from 10-minutes prior.
Information Notice.
But it was this notice that really caught my attention and, with my curiosity beginning to surface, I decided to have it translated so as to shine some light into what it was that I was  standing-on.
   With the assistance of two of my friends (who's expertise in translating Kanji into English knows no bounds) and the nice people at the Yamashiro Regional Museum, I was informed that I was standing-upon the Tsubaiotsukayama Kofun, or Tumulus or Burial Mounds as they are also known. The Kofun were all the rage between the early 3rd century and the early 7th century. This one, it is believed, was built in the late 3rd century, and thus dates from the era of Yamataikoku, which was a kingdom of prehistoric Japan and which was mentioned in Chinese annuals, and might be the same as Yamato, which was later in the Japanese annals. 
   My enquiries failed to ascertain who, if anyone, was buried here but, in 1953, during an archaeological excavation, nearly 40 bronzed mirrors, including 30 god-beast mirrors, were found along with various other things. There is strong theory the god-beast mirrors were mirrors that Himiko, the Shamaness-Queen  of Yamatai recorded in the Chinese annals, is believed to have received them as a gift from the Ruler of a Chinese Ethnic Group.
Mozu Kofugun, Osaka.
It is difficult to imagine what this Kofun looked-like 1,700 years-ago, maybe like the one in the image on the left. But today, if it weren't for the information-board, one wouldn't know what they were standing on. 
Tsubaiotsukayama Kofun.
In the image on the right, which I managed to photo, is of the tomb as it (may have) appeared at the time of construction, with (my) markings of how it looks today.
J.R.Nara Line.
Through the middle of the mound (marked with -) runs the J.R. Nara Rail-Line (the gentleman standing there is a train enthusiast with camera in hand). You can see the steps (marked with +) leading up to the summit (the lane I cycled to get to the mound is marked with =). If you look at this Satellite Image of Tsubaiotsukayama Kofun you will get a better impression of how the mound looks today. 

Hidden-away, on the bottom right of the Kofun, is a monument dedicated to the Tsubaiotsukayama Kofun (marked with #). It just stands there in an empty section with the village surrounding it. I am somewhat saddened by this. With all the restoration and preservation work that has been done on old sites around Japan - Shrines, Temples and Castles to name a few - and the many UNESCO and National Treasures of Japan, this one has been forgotten and sits unnoticed.
   All-in-all this turned-out to be another great outing and, if any further information comes-to-hand, I won't hesitate to pass it on. In the mean time, I plan to do more research into the Yamashiro area as I feel there are more wee secrets to be revealed. Watch this space. 
   Some more interesting reading; Kofun CultureJapanese Bronze Mirrors,Yamato ProvinceKofun in the Nara Basin.

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