Officially designated as an historical site, Kawabe Takamori Ruins consist of 6 large keyhole-shaped tomb mounds, surrounded by 120 graves. All of them have a large keyhole-shaped tomb mound facing different directions.
The ruins have lost their shapes over time due to the increase of surrounding paddy fields. However, this is the only place which has several ruins concentrated in Oita Prefecture. Even in Kyushu, these ruins comprise the the second largest burial site after the Saitobaru Ruins (320 graves) in Miyazaki Prefecture.
The Tsurumi Ruins were the last tombs to be made for the headman of Usa area in the mid-6th century. Furthermore, they are an important historical record of the burial system during the late Kofun period.
Ishibutai Tumulus is located in the village of Asuka in Nara Prefecture. The tumulus is made of 30 big stones.
Ishibutai Tumulus was built in the 6th century and is one of the biggest of its kind in Japan. It's about 7.7m long, 3.5m wide and 4.7m tall. The passage inside the tumulus is about 11m long and 2.5m wide. The weight of all the stones is 77 tons!
It is believed that the tumulus was the grave of Soga-no-Umako. According to one theory, the mound was tiered because of people's anger toward the Soga clan.
In 1933 and 1935, Kosaku Hamada (from Kyoto University) and his colleagues carried out excavation and research here. But, most of the mortuary goods had already been stolen and only some pieces of stone coffins were found.
Ishibutai Tumulus has been loved by many people as a sightseeing symbol of the Asuka region. During daytime, the tumulus is open to the public and you are allowed to enter under the stones.
In Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, there is a museum dedicated to archaeological sites excavated in the vicinity. The museum itself is in Jomon Village at the foot of Mt Nishi, an area peppered with many ancient sites from the Jomon period.
Extensive research in Showa 52 led to the recognition of the site as an ancient area of habitation dating to the paleolithic Yayoi period. Inside the museum are clay figures and artifacts, while outside on Kodai-no-Oka (Hill of Antiquity) in the center of the village are gigantic clay figures. Visitors can also experience 'camping' inside a restored pit dwelling.
The resource center was built with the idea of preserving the surrounding mountains, rivers and hills, and is populated with many rare animals and plants. Camping in the autumn, when the leaves turn, is also popular.
Shirihachi-date is a medieval fort at the top of a 180m-high hill. The remains of moats, hillside fencing and earthen bridges can still be seen still today.
Excavation has revealed Chinese ceramics dating from the late 13th century to the late 15th century. Of particular interest, these include a celadon 'peony incense burner', which is said to be the most excellent ceramic ever found in Aomori Prefecture.
In 1978 and 1979, excavation revealed 1,800 relics including moats and daily ware, which gave new insights into Tsugaru in medieval times.
Today, the prefectural history museum exhibits valuable relics relating to trade in east Asia. These suggest that Aomori was not an isolated region at all.
Shichinohe Castle is said to have been built in the Kamakura period and for a long time was the residence of the Shichinohe Nanbu Clan. In the Edo period, the Nanbu (Morioka) Clan took control of it and placed a magistrate's office there.
The castle is also known as Hakuyo Castle. It is on the edge of a 40m diluvial upland spreading northwest from a junction between the Sakuda and Wada rivers toward an urban district.
The castle remains consist of 7 buildings: the main and secondary ones, the north, west and lower ones, as well as the Horai and square ones, covering a total of about 95,000m2. Each clay wall is original, and the moats, round walls, hillside walls, entrances and warriors' hiding places still remain.
In 1591, the 7 castellans participated in Kunohe Masazane's riot and died. The castle was destroyed in the following year.
Now, as part of the Shichinohe Castle Ruin Protection Plan, excavations are taking place in the north building. In 1996, the main and second buildings were found and 15th-century relics were discovered.
Koumoriduka archeological site is an officially designated site in Okayama prefecture. It dates back to the late-6th century and is a burial mound that was carved out of the natural hill, having a length of about 100m.
It is named 'koumoriduka' because many bats (koumori) live here. The rock chamber is about 19.4m2 in size and as large as the stone chamber at the Ishibutai burial mound in Nara prefecture.
The mound comprises long dromos and a burial chamber. There is a stone coffin inside that was hollowed from limestone. The mound also has wooden and earthen coffins, and it seems to be a standard ruin of that time. This burial mound suggests great power and wealth.
Shika-no-shima island is located in Higashi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture. It is a tombola island in the northern part of Hakata bay, and features two small islands connected by a bar of land. The island is approximately 11km in circumeference, with some 790 households and a population of about 3000. A tombola-form island such as this is very rare in Japan.
In 1784, two farmers harvesting rice on the island came across the golden seal of the Kan-no-wanona-no-Kokuo. It is thought that the seal was the same one referred to in the Chinese book 'Gokanjo' (the 'Book of the Later Han'), which was said to have been handed to the messenger of Nakoku from Kobutei (Emperor Guangwu).
Not only is the 'Gokanjo' a very important historical artifact, it is also a valuable national treasure. This golden seal reveals the early history of Japan, and is currently preserved and exhibited at the Fukuoka Museum. However, it is still unknown why the golden seal was buried on Shika-no-shima. One thing, however, is understood: that Shika-no-shima was the starting point from mainland Japan for overseas trade by the early rulers of the country. It is an ancient place and site of many historic incidents.
The ruins of Nokata (Nokata Iseki), in Nishi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, show the remains of a village dating from the end of the Yayoi period to the Kofun period. The village was located on a long, fan-shaped plateau, which has an altitude of 17m to 20m, and measures 600m from north to south, and 200m east to west.
During the Yayoi period, the village was surrounded by two moats of different sizes. Within the village were smaller 'kango' (a small village surrounded by a moat), with the bigger kango having as many as 10 dwellings. Within the smaller kango were above-ground warehouses, which stored foods such as grain.
By the Kofun Period, there were more than 300 dwellings here. The burial area was very obviously situated away from the residential area. Many artefacts were excavated from the kango, including earthenware, stone implements and ironware, along with a variety of clam shells and bones from animals, birds, and fish, such as shark, bream and sea bass. Also unearthed were stone coffins filled with mirrors, balls, swords, glass balls and beads.
Nokata Iseki is a great place for people to learn about and envision the daily life of people in ancient Japan, and to capture the history and atmosphere of the past.