- Furuichi Kofun group - Kansai. Group of 123 megalithic burial structures. 31 of these structures are formed into a keyhole form. These structures were built in the time period between the late 4th and early 6th centuries and are the largest tumulus. Site includes Ôjin-tennô-ryô Kofun - second largest tumulus in Japan, 425 m long.
- Ishibutai Kofun - Kansai. Largest megalithic structure in Japan, a burial of once important person (possibly Soga no Umako). Today here are 30 enormous stones although earlier this structure was larger and covered with soil. Ceiling of the tomb is covered with two giant stones - 60 and 77 tons heavy.
- Kitora Tomb - Kansai. A mound with a tomb for a single, important person. Tomb was created in the time period between the 7th and early 8th centuries AD. On the ceiling of the tomb is drawn star chart but on the walls are painted the oldest known zodiac murals in East Asia.
- Nintoku-ryo Tumulus (Daisen Kofun) - Kansai. Largest ancient tumulus in Japan and whole world, 486 m long and up to 33 m high. Built, possibly, in the middle of the 5th century AD.
- Takamatsuzuka Tomb - Kansai. Burial mound with amazing polychrome frescoes, created in the time period between the end of the 7th century and early 8th century AD. Mound has a diameter of 16 m and is 5 m high. Frescoes are rich with symbolism and show four male followers and four abigails together with Chinese constellations: the Azure Dragon, Black Tortoise, White Tiger, and Vermilion Bird.
The term Ishibutai is a combination of two Japanese words, “ishi” and “butai” which mean stone and stage respectively. Folk story says that once upon a time, a fox transformed into a woman and danced above the stones. Another story tells there was this traveling entertainer who used the large tomb stone as a stage in performing.
Admission fee is JPY 250 and the place is open daily from 8:30AM to 5PM. From Kashihara Jingu-mae station or Asuka station, you can take the Nara Kotsu Bus to Ishibutai-mae bus stop to visit the tomb.
- See more at: http://www.rianesleisurefinds.com/nara/#sthash.FuV4fstp.dpuf
Also, the Sasenmonjyutaikyo (a mirror) and Tahoukantoutachi (a sword with animal engravings), among others, which are said to have been excavated from this tomb are currently in the collection of the Boston Museum of Arts in the United States. In addition, there have been more than ten smaller tombs called Baicho discovered around the tomb. Daisenryo is without a doubt the largest keyhole-shaped tomb in Japan, but there are doubts to other information regarding this tomb; recent excavation projects have revealed shards of Sue ware pots from the tsukuridashi, which would increase the possibility of the tomb being built from mid to late 5th century, raising archaeological controversy about whether it actually is the tomb of Emperor Nintoku. There is an approximately 2.8 kilometer walkway encircling the tomb, which takes an hour to walk around.
Construction age and composition of the tumulus cluster.
The true nature of this rock has long been debated. Various theories have emerged, such as its being equipment for ancient people’s astronomical observations, or the pedestal for stone inscriptions, but recently the most favored view is that it was abandoned in its original position in the midst of making it into a stone burial chamber. As there are fissures on the rock’s circumference, it may be that it was abandoned when these were noted during the work.
The mysterious monoliths of Asuka Nara and the Rock Ship of Masuda
The stone carving, which stands near the top of a hill in Asuka, is 11 metres in length, 8 metres in width and 4.7 metres in height, and weighs approximately 800 tonnes. The top of has been completely flattened and there are two one-meter square holes carved into it and a ridge line that is parallel to both holes. At the base of the stone are lattice-shaped indentations which are believed to be related to the process that was used by the builders to flatten the sides of the rock.
So what is the nature of this rock and what is its purpose? Who made it, when and why? Unfortunately, there are no definite answers to those questions, but numerous suggestions have been put forward to account for this unique and unusual structure.
In the region in which Masuda no iwafune is found, there are many Buddhist temples and shrines that may suggest the carving was made by Buddhists, perhaps for some kind of religious or ceremonial purpose. However, Masuda no iwafune does not resemble the style or construction of any other Buddhist monument.
Another suggestion comes from the name of the rock itself, which translates to ‘the rock ship of Masuda’. It has been suggested that the stone was carved in commemoration of the building of Masuda Lake, which was once located nearby (now drained and part of Kashiwara City).
Another popular theory is that it was used as an astronomical observation point. Evidence for this perspective comes from the ridge line across the top of the rock which runs parallel to the mountain ridge in Asuka and lines up with the sunset on a certain day of the year called "spring doyou entry", which occurs 13 days after the sectional solar term ‘Pure Brightness’. This day was important in the lunar calendar and for early Japanese agriculture as it signalled the beginning of the agricultural season. However, this perspective has been largely dismissed by scholars who do not recognise it as an ancient astronomical observing station.
Some historians believe that the rock is just the remains of a tomb that was designed for members of the royal family. However, this does not explain the unusual features, such as the square holes on top, nor have any bodies been found. To account for this, some have suggested it was intended as the entrance of a tomb but was unfinished.
Interestingly, Masuda no iwafune bears a similarity to another stone block in Japan – the Ishi-no-Hoden megalith, which is situated in Takasago city. The Ishi-no-Hoden megalith measures 6.45m x 5.7 m x 5.45 m, and has similar ridges on the sides but without any visible holes – although some suggest that they are beneath the trees on the top of the rock.
Very little is known about the Masuda no iwafune stone carving and definitive evidence is still lacking with regards to who built it and why. The fact that there are so many other stone slabs and structures in the area suggests that the region was inhabited prior to the Tumulus period, but again, there is no proof to support this perspective. In the end, the true origin and purpose of these enigmatic features of ancient Japan may be lost to the pages of history.
By John Black
Read more: http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/mysterious-monoliths-asuka-nara-and-rock-ship-masuda-001415#ixzz3dKB3AqwP
A mysterious dug-out cube monument in a quarry. Known as one of 3 greatest enigmas in Japan. Now worshiped as the god of the Ōshiko jinja shinto shrine. Although the structure of the top is concealed by pine trees, they suspect that there may be 2 holes like Masada-no-Iwafune and Kengoshizuka-kofun. The name of the nearest station is named after this site "Houden".
The German doctor Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866), who entered isolated Japan disguising as a Dutchman, later presented his drawing of Ishi-no-Hōden in volume 1 of his books "NIPPON" (1832).
But archaeology in this part of the world is different from other places. Quickly changing language systems, and an early habit of religiously/politically motivated revisionist history, added to the reluctance of locals to trust outsiders, definitely hinders efforts to bring meaning to these ancient artefacts from a time long gone.
In the end, the true origin and history of these enigmatic features of old-world Japan may be lost to the passage of time. We can learn much from the study of ancient traditions, customs and languages, but not everything survives the long march of the ages.
I love, Japan! - Admin