The Japan Heritage Story

The scenery surrounding the kofuns has remained much the same as when they were constructed
- Saitobaru Burial Mounds -

Saitobaru Burial Mounds are situated on a plateau over the west bank of the Hitotsuse River, which flows through the Miyazaki Plain. The kofun group consists of over 300 mounded tombs within an area measuring 2.6 km from east to west and 4.2 km from north to south, and marks one of the largest outstanding kofun clusters in Japan. The most distinguishing feature of the Saitobaru Burial Mounds is that the original shapes of the kofuns have remained unchanged, and even uncovered with trees. The area still retains much the same appearance as when the kofuns were constructed some 1400 years ago.

Keyhole-shaped mounded tombs as viewed from the side

The keyhole-shaped mounded tombs with rounded rears are aligned alongside the edges of the plateau, and round mounded tombs fill the spaces between those keyhole-shaped mounded tombs with few gaps.

You may notice two distinctively large kofuns at the foot of the hill (Mt. Takatori) on the plateau. These are the Mesahozuka and Osahozuka burial mounds. Their overwhelmingly majestic appearance reflects the magnitude of power that one wielded as a prominent leader in South Kyushu. A kofun shaped like the planet Saturn, called "Oninoiwaya Tumulus," is known for its unusual form, with mounded earth circled around the round mounded tomb. The stone chamber, made of rocks, leaves a wide entrance that allows visitors to enter. There are also square mounded tombs, though not so many in number.

Saturn-like kofun (Oninoiwaya Tumulus)

Blessed with a rich natural environment, and being on an important travelers route, Saitobaru was committed to the construction of kofuns for some 400 years. Consequently, its grandly panoramic kofun landscape framed by the blue sky and green mountains in the background was created. It is a place where time seems to have stopped, and where visitors can feel as if they have entered an ancient world belonging to the people of that time. Kofuns are brilliant when lit by either the rising or the setting sun, and have a different feel when they are illuminated by the moonlight, creating a mystical atmosphere. As you stand on top of the small but highly-mounded tombs or on the observation deck of Mt. Takatori, you will see countless dots between the large keyhole shapes, creating a picture on the plateau.

Moreover, as the colors of the kofun change from green to brown or red in autumn and winter, one can see a completely different view than that of spring and summer.

Group of kofuns that looks like a pattern drawn on the plateau