|Extensive Site Scattered with Several Hundred
From the end of the third to the seventh centuries, the burial mounds, or kofun, of Japan were thrown up over the tombs of important people, including the members of powerful clans. This period in history is known as the Kofun era. The mounds were built in various shapes and sizes; some were several meters high, while the grandest, which are nearly 500 meters (1,640 feet) long, are among the largest tombs in the world. Excepting Hokkaido, they can be found over most of Japan.
In the center of Miyazaki Prefecture, more than 300 mounds
are found in Saitobaru, covering a plateau that measures 2.6 kilometers
(1.6 miles) from east to west and 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) north to south.
No other place equals such a concentration of mounds that are officially
recognized as historical remains. The mounds date from the end of the fourth
to the sixth century, and experts reckon that the golden period was during
the fifth century.
Notable are the Osahozuka mound, with 219 meters (719 feet) long, the largest mound in Kyushu, and the Mesahozuka, 174 meters (571 feet) long. Legend has it that these are the tombs of Ninigi-no-Mikoto, an ancestor of the current Imperial Family. Excavations were carried out in the 1910s during a large-scale archaeological survey.
Photos: (Top) The mounds in the Saitobaru historical district; (middle) In Kofun Festival, performers are dressed in costumes of the ancient time. (Miyazaki Prefecture).
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