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亀塚古墳 Kameduka-kofun Kamezuka Tomb

Jp En

Kamezuka Tomb is located at the eastern end of Niyuu Plateau which is on the left bank of the estuary of Niyuu River that runs through Sakanoichi Town, Ooita, Ooita Prefecture.
The tomb is a keyhole-shaped tumulus with the front facade facing southwards. It is thought to be built in the early 5th century during the Tumulus period. There are scores of other burial mounds nearby and the whole area is now recognized as a Kamezuka Tomb Cluster.
The tomb is built on three levels, and has a total length of 120m, with its rounded rear part 64m wide. It is known as the largest keyhole-shaped tumulus in Oita Prefecture.
In ancient times, the area was controlled by the Amabenotami people who ruled Bungo Channel, traveling and trading freely through it, leading to a theory that Kamezuka Tomb belongs to the head of Amabenotami.
In 1996, the tomb was designated as a historic location and excavation began. More than 150 artifacts were found there including Magatama, earthenware, glass beads, swords and compasses.
After the excavation, the area was restored as a park with replica Haniwa burial mound figurines, so visitors can imagine the ancient times in their heyday.
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切妻造 Kirizuma-zukuri The Kirizuma-zukuri Style

Jp En

The Kirizuma-zukuri style is one of Japanese traditional architectural styles, especially said of the styles of roofs. Japanese roofs are classified into any one of the three representative styles; Kirizuma (gable roof), Yosemune (hip roof) and Irimoya (hip-and-gable roof).

The ends of buildings with gable roofs have a triangular space (gable) made by the incline of the two sides of the roof. Seen from the gable side, the wall looks as if it was cut by the roof; hereby it is called Kirizuma, which literally means “a cut gable.”

The Kirizuma-zukuri style was a basic architectural style in ancient Japan. The gable roof was prized most highly during the Kofun period (3rd-6th centuries), when it was the symbol of the residences of powerful rulers. However, in the Nara period (710-794), when the Yosemune-zukuri style (with hip roof) was introduced from China, it was considered more sophisticated because extension of the roof was apparently recognized.

Later on, the Irimoya-zukuri style (with hip-and-gable roof) became most favored in the prestigious buildings such as palaces, noblemen’s residences and temples due to its combined features; the symbolic character of the Kirizuma style and the expansivity of the Yosemune style.
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沙沙貴神社 Sasaki-jinja Sasaki Shrine

Jp En

Sasaki Shrine in Azuchi Town, Shiga Prefecture, was founded to enshrine the family god of Sasaki Yamakimi, a local ruler of this area during the Kofun period (3rd century-6th century). After the middle of the Heian period (794-1192), the shrine was faithfully protected by the Sasaki clan, who were descended from Emperor Uda by his grandson Minamoto no Masanobu. Minamoto no Nariyori, great-grandson of Masanobu, is the first who took the name of Sasaki from his domain where this shrine is located.

The Romon gate is a beautiful two-story gate with thatched roof. The woodwork under the eaves is especially beautiful. It follows the architectural style of the Heian to Kamakura periods, but was reconstructed in 1747 in the middle of the Edo period.

Honden (the main hall) is a 5-bay flowing style building with copper roof. It was constructed in 1848 together with Haiden (the oratory), which is a large and spacious building. The 8 large-sized wooden buildings including Honden, Haiden and Gonden were prefecturally designated as cultural properties in 1990.

In May, visitors can enjoy viewing white and cute blossoms of Chinese Fringetrees and Arisaema urashima, a subspecies of Japanese cobra lily with the tip of the spadix ending in a long whip. Its Japanese name “Urashima-so” alludes to a folktale about a fisherman named Urashima Taro; the very long whip on its spadix is thought to resemble a fishing line.
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山前遺跡 Yamamae-iseki Yamamae Ruins

Jp En

Yamamae Ruins spreading on the south slopes of the terraced land located between the Naruse River and the Eai River in Misato Town, Miyagi Prefecture, are the complex of the colony ruins built from the early to mid-Jomon period and from the Kofun to Heian periods. The ruins site is nationally designated as a Historic Site.

From the Jomon ruins, pit dwellings and shell mounds were found. The colony of the Kofun period and the large moat surrounding the colony were also found. Wooden fork heads, wooden blocks for beating cloth, thrusting sticks, bamboo baskets were excavated from the moat. Other ruins of colonies and relics in the Nara through Heian periods were also excavated. It is considered to be an academically important historic site, which had been used for thousands of years.

The ruins site has been converted into a history park and is open to the public.
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火の国まつり Hi-no-kuni-matsuri Hinokuni Festival

Jp En

Hinokuni (Land of Fire) Festival is held in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture from August 11 to 13 every year. Being nicknamed “Land of Fire,” Kumamoto Prefecture has a lot of history and folklore pertaining to “fire” including the Shiranui (Unknown Fire) legend concerning Emperor Keiko, the legendary hero Hinokimi (King of Fire Country) in the Kofun period (3rd to 6th centuries) and the fire mountain Mt, Aso. Hinokuni Festival was first held in 1978 as an event to cerebrate this land of fire.

On the first day of the festival, the fire ignition ceremony is held at Kinpo-zan Youth Outdoor Learning Center. The fire is then brought to the torch at the symbol tower placed in the Kumamoto Castle ruins site. It is called “Fire of Hope” and keeps on burning during the festival.

The main event is the colorful rhythmic Otemoyan Grand Dance, in which as many as 6,000 citizens wind through the streets of the downtown area, dancing to a famous and happy folksong “Otemoyan (Did you get married?)” and the lilt music of “Samba Otemoyan.”
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群馬 榛名山 Gunma Haruna-san Mt. Haruna

Jp En

Mt. Haruna (1,449 m) is an active volcano in Harunako-cho, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture. Together with Mt. Akagi and Mt. Myogi, it is one of the Three Mountains in Jomo (present-day Gunma Prefecture). The volcano has a summit caldera, which contains over fifteen peaks including the symmetrical cone of Haruna-Fuji, along with a crater lake, Lake Haruna. Although it has been inactive for a long time, it eruppted many times from the 5th to the 6th centuries. At Kuroimine Ruins in Shibukawa City at the eastern foot of the mountain, the intact remains of dwellings in the late Kofun  period (A.D. 300-700) were excavated under the 2 m deposition of volcanic ashes.

The mountain itself had long been worshipped as the deity that symborizes the town, and it has Haruna Shrine and Mizusawa Kannon Temple inside the mountain area. There also remain many legends and folk tales, which include the tales of the Giant Daidarabocch and the well that was dug by Kobodaishi. There are a lot of hot springs around the mountain including Ikaho Hot Springs.
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妻木晩田遺跡 Mukibanda-Iseki Mukibanda Ruins

Jp En

Mukibanda Ruins located in Yodoe-cho, Yonago City, Tottori Prefecture are the remains from Yayoi period (BC 3rd to AD 3rd centuries). It is one of the largest ruins of the Yayoi colony excavated in Japan. Over 400 pit dwellings, over 500 buildings with supporting pillars, and 34 graves, which were supposedly built from the end of the mid-Yayoi period to Kofun period ((3rd-6th centuries), have been excavated. The colony was composed of seven sections, each of which had different role and function. This large-scale colony is supposed to have been the provincial center of the period. It is supposed that the colony was constructed in a highland due to the political turbulences occurring during this period. However as it is very exceptional that such a large-scale colony existed for such a long period of time, the ruins attract attention of many researchers.
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大坊古墳 Daibou-kofun Daibo Kofun

Jp En

Daibo Kofun is located on the side of the hill along Chujo Valley in Kannabe-cho, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a circular-shaped kofun with a diameter of 14 m. The stone chamber dug into the side of the wall and made of worked stone material is very distinctive. You can step into the kofun through a large opening at the side. The chamber is 11.2 m in total length, 1.9 m wide and 1.9 m tall. Huge granite cubes are used for the ceiling, walls and pillars.
The era of its construction is not identified from the excavated articles, but the shape of the chamber indicates that it was built in the early 7th century. Its huge and beautifully balanced symmetrical structure, which is rarely seen in the structures built 1,400 years ago, shows the aesthetic feeling and pride of the ruler who was berried in this kofun. Daibo Kofun was designated as a Historic Site by Hiroshima Prefecture in 1983.
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