The Japan Heritage Story

Centuries of kofun construction

The practice of constructing burial mounds, called "kofun," flourished from the 3rd to 7th centuries AD throughout the Japanese archipelago. There are over 160,000 kofuns, including the keyhole-shaped mounded tombs with rounded rear portions that complete a keyhole shape as seen from above, as well as mounded tombs with round or square shapes. In that era, kofuns served as monuments that displayed one's status and power, which was reflected in the tomb's size and shape. All such tombs were constructed solely by manual labor during the Kofun period, which stretched across centuries and marked the first widespread completion of civil engineering works ever in Japanese history.

Saitobaru Burial Mounds

While many of the kofuns scattered throughout the Japanese archipelago have deteriorated over the years, a plateau in the Miyazaki Plain uniquely offers a landscape in which the original appearance and shape of kofuns has remained largely unchanged, with very few surrounding buildings. Let's look at the world of these kofun landscapes.

The scenery surrounding the kofuns has remained much the same as when they were constructed