Friday, April 30, 2010

Kofun: Ancient Tombs of Japan

Just close to our Seminar House 4, there lies a tomb enshrouded by trees and paths just by the park. The tomb is very old, probably dating from before Nara period, and is a kofun.

Kofun are mounded tombs, similar to the round earth tombs that were made by Native Americans after 500BC. The ones in Japan are usually keyhole shaped and were probably built after 500 AD. The most famous of which is in Tokyo, and is called the Daisen Kofun. This kofun is keyhole-shaped! If you look at it on Google Earth, they imagery that makes it easy to see.

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The kofun near Seminar has a plaque, but it appears quite old and very hard to read. My Japanese is also limited, which makes deciphering the kanji ever more difficult. I shot the tablet at an angle to avoid glare on its marble surface, and then did some perspective correction to make it easier to read. I leave it to my readers, if they can, to decipher its meaning.

Walking up to the mound is like taking a step back into an older time in Japan. The kofun is surrounded by ancient-looking cobblestone paths and steps leading ever higher to the tomb.

There were children running up and down the steps, playing. I wonder how they feel about this location and if it is sacred or not? They looked like they were having fun, so I just let them be and continued up the steps. Here is the kofun as seen from the very top.

Please note that you can move around the panorama on your own by clicking and dragging with the mouse!

This location is a wonderful respite from the surrounding urban sprawl. Even the nearby park has an artifical quality to it; but this place feels much more in tune with nature, untouched since many hundreds of years ago. I wish more of this ancient, wooded Japan existed near me in Japan.


1 comment:

visual gonthros said...

You have certainly documented a treasure close to campus. How about asking your Japanese professor to help you read the plaque? There might even be a certain history professor around here with expertise on such matters...

I see kids playing in temples and shrines all the time. In fact, isn't there a shrine with a playground inside of it close to the seminar houses? I don't think the division of sacred and profane is so strict here, especially for children.

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