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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Tokyo Daytripper: Tomb Raiding Simply North of Tokyo

Late final 12 months one among my associates posted on Fb about driving spherical an space simply north of Tokyo within the identify of visiting varied kofun (historical burial mounds). The town they’re dotted round was a spot I knew about from my final journey to a close-by space 5 years in the past, and seeing his footage prompted me to lastly go there to see all of it for myself.

Take the Shonan-Shinjuku Line north of Ikebukuro for about an hour and also you’ll arrive within the metropolis of Gyoda which is situated in north-central Saitama, with the Tone River separating it from Gunma Prefecture. The Kofun Interval is an period within the historical past of Japan from about 300 to 538 AD which was the date when Buddhism was launched.

As quickly as I arrived at Fukiage station one morning, I headed to the bus station exterior and promptly caught a bus shut to what’s in all probability probably the most attention-grabbing tomb within the space. I used to be the one one on the bus for the entire journey which was adopted by a ten minute stroll from the bus depot.

I say it might be probably the most attention-grabbing one however I don’t actually know as I’m simply basing that on the truth that Gyoda Hachimanyama Historical Tomb is the one one which isn’t open 24 hours a day. Not solely that however it’s only open at weekends between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm so that implies to me that it’s elite degree!

One of many signboards within the park has some details about its historical past in English which is maybe a bit shocking as this isn’t precisely on the vacationer path for non-Japanese! The truth is, I’m not even positive if Japanese themselves go to right here as there wasn’t a soul in sight throughout my time right here. Entry is free and there are not any workers current so I actually did have all of it to myself.


Roughly 60 burial mounds have been found on this space of Saitama with a lot of artifacts unearthed resembling pottery and clay figures. Hachimanyama kofun was initially constructed by human palms within the first half of the seventh century as a big spherical mounded tomb with a diameter of roughly 80 metres. In 1934, when the kofun was demolished a stone chamber was found.


There was a slighly eerie feeling as I crouched all the way down to enter the tomb which consists of three chambers. As soon as upon a time they housed the interval’s most exalted leaders, together with their valuable belongings.

Nonetheless, there’s little or no to see apart from the stone partitions now so one simply has to admire the way it was all constructed by hand in addition to imagining what life was like manner again in historical past.


Additional excavation analysis and restoration work was carried out for a number of years within the late Nineteen Seventies. It’s fairly darkish inside however on a pleasant day the solar’s rays do handle to shine some gentle by way of the slight cracks within the building.


A ten minute stroll north of there took me to a different tomb website; the Prefecture designated historic website Jizo Tomb (2-28-1 Fujiwaracho, Gyoda, Saitama-ken) which is situated in a residential space.

The inside of the stone chamber is closed to the general public to guard the line-carved murals inside however replicas are on show on the Saitama Prefectural Museum of Historical past & Folklore in Omiya Park.


This one is 28 metres large and simply 4.5 metres in top so reaching the summit doesn’t want a Rocky-style exercise! The kofun has been formed by nature, changing into a pleasing grassy knoll coated with varied bushes and flowers.

There’s a jizo-do corridor on the prime of the hill.


From the aspect, you can be forgiven for pondering that it’s nothing greater than a small hilly mound but what lies beneath tells one other story.

There are fairly a number of extra tombs situated in Gyoda and my plan was to return a few weeks after this go to to see Sakitama Kofun Park however a mixture of unhealthy climate, different occasions, laziness and an actual lack of need meant I didn’t hassle. I used to be happy with what I noticed on this journey and I’m positive I’ll go there once more someday but it surely’s not precisely a precedence in the interim.

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