he Mozu Tumulus Cluster is a group of ancient tumuli in Sakai City, extending for approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in every direction. It originally contained more than 100 tumuli built during the Kofun Period (ca. 300 to 538), but due to Sakai's rapid urbanization and other factors, many of the old monuments were lost, and now 44 tumuli built between the late 4th century and early 6th century remain. This cluster includes one of the world's largest tombs, the Tumulus of Emperor Nintoku, as well as other massive keyhole-shaped tumuli, making it an important heritage for preserving Japan's ancient tumulus culture.
A tumulus (plural: tumuli) is an ancient burial mound serving as a tomb for a king or other person of power or status in their time. The Tumulus of Emperor Nintoku is, along with the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, one of the world's three largest tombs. It measures 840 meters in length (just over half a mile), is surrounded by triple moats, and has an out-perimeter circumference of 2.7 kilometers (about 1.7 miles). Although tumuli vary widely in shape from country to country, large tumuli such as that of Emperor Nintoku are meant to symbolize a person's influence and power, and thus they can be found all around the world. The Mozu Tumulus Cluster, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and where Emperor Nintoku's tomb is located, is said to be more than 1,600 years old. It's impressive that, despite how much time has passed since their construction, tumuli can still be found in the middle of this huge urban area.
The Tumulus of Emperor Nintoku is often depicted using aerial photography, as its massive size makes it difficult to view the tomb's overall form from ground level. We recommend using the free observation area on the 21st floor of Sakai City Hall, which is located near Sakaihigashi Station on the Nankai Koya Line, in order to get a better view of this tumulus. From this location, you can see it sitting like a forest right in the middle of the city, as shown in the photograph. If you wish to see the tumulus from ground level, only the central prayer area is accessible to the public. But there's a way to see more: Stop by the Mozu Tumulus Cluster Visitor Information Center where ultra-detailed, 8K-resolution aerial photographs can be viewed. You can also utilize state-of-the-art virtual reality technology at the Mozu Tumulus Cluster Theater in the Sakai City Museum to explore for yourself the wonders of Emperor Nintoku's tumulus and other tumuli in the area.
To learn more about the other tumuli in the cluster, take some time to explore the 44 tombs of various sizes scattered throughout the area. In addition to varying in size, the tumuli come in various shapes and some can even be ascended on foot. Each offers its own unique experience! Emperor Richu's tumulus, for example, is the third-largest tumulus in Japan, yet it has just one surrounding moat which enables visitors to better view it from various different angles. If you plan to explore the various tumuli of the Mozu cluster, stop first at the Daisen Park Tourist Information Center to gather information on the area before setting out.
While exploring Senshu's impressive tumuli, you can also check out nearby shops for local sweets and goods inspired by the tumuli themselves, or even try your hand at local crafts rooted in the town's history. Pick and choose the destinations which interest you to complete your own perfect itinerary! And if you want to see everything there is to see, you can rent a bicycle from Daisen Park or other locations.
This old tea shop was originally founded in 1850. In recent years, they have pursued co-designed products and countless other innovative projects in collaboration with other popular sweets shops and cafes. Customers can enjoy lunch as well in this renovated traditional-style townhouse.
Don't forget to sample their Tsuboichi Fukamushi Green Tea and Tsuboichi Oolong Tea, which among other Tea Tsuboichi products are popular throughout Japan.
2Machiya Cafe Sacay
Machiya Cafe Sacay regularly offers wagashi traditional Japanese sweets making workshops, enabling visitors to drop by and experience Sakai-style tea ceremony and sweets culture anytime. If making wagashi isn't for you, then simply pop in to order a beverage or meal!
Enjoy Sakai's traditional nerikiri confections and powdered green tea here at a leisurely pace.
3Kofun Curry Hanachawan
Various shops in the area offer tumulus-shaped curry-and-rice dishes, but Kofun Curry Hanachawan sets themself apart from the competition with a highly varied menu. Try their Kofun Curry Spaghetti, their Kofun Omelet Curry, or any of their other delectable dishes—choosing just one can be quite a challenge!
They've been featured on television in the past and their popular dishes are only available while daily supplies last, so make an advance reservation if possible.
Myokoku-ji Temple's large sago palm tree, which has been certified by the national government as a natural monument, was once relocated for a time to Azuchi Castle under orders of the famed shogun Oda Nobunaga. The Sotetsu no Karesansui Garden, which is the only dry landscape garden in Japan centered around a sago palm tree, is also highly impressive. In fact, it is officially designated as a Sakai City Cultural Property. The garden lantern featuring roku jizo Buddhist statue depictions, donated by the legendary tea master Sen no Rikyu, as well as the gourd-shaped fountain and other features of this temple, are all must-see relics.
This blacksmith's shop was founded in 1872. When Horyuji Temple underwent major renovations in 1952, Mizuno Tanrenjo produced the mayoke-gama blade-like ornamentations for the nine vertically stacked rings on each cardinal direction of the roof shaft of the five-story pagoda, which itself is designated as a national treasure.
Visitors to the workshop can view traditional-style knife and Japanese-sword forging using bellows, which is a must-see experience that is sure to leave you impressed.
This old wagashi traditional sweets shop is said to have been named by the celebrated shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi himself. The menu consists of just two items: kurumimochi sticky-rice cakes in bean paste, and kori-kurumimochi which is the previous item served over shaved ice. These kurumimochi confections smothered in bright-green paste are only served in-shop; no delivery services are available.
Keep in mind that Kanbukuro is famous throughout Japan, and they sometimes sell out of products for that day prior to closing time, so try to stop by as early as possible.
- Where is the best place to go for viewing the Tumulus of Emperor Nintoku?
- he 21st floor observatory in Sakai City Hall,which is right next to Sakaihigashi Station on the Nankai Koya Line, is free of charge and offers a great view of the tumulus.
- With zenpo-koen shaped tumuli, is the front part the square portion? [Note: zenpo-koen means “square in the front, rounded at the back,” but is often translated simply as “keyhole-shaped” in English.]
- During the Edo Period (1603–1868), many believed this to be the case for a time, but contemporary research has revealed that the circular, so-called “back” section is the actual burial tomb, making this the main part of the tumulus in reality despite the square portion being called the “front.” The zenpo-koen terminology is well-established, so it is still used today.
- Is it possible to climb up any of the tumulus mounds?
- Yes. Visitors may ascend the Jonoyama Tumulus and Gobyo-Omotezuka Tumulus. The Jonoyama Tumulus is in Shironoyama Park, which is a park with multiple tumuli. As for the Gobyo-Omotezuka Tumulus, much of the moat has been filled in and the square portion of the tumulus has been lost, but it was originally a so-called “scallop-shaped” variety of keyhole-shape (zenpo-koen) tumulus, meaning it had a relatively short square front section.
- Is it possible to view the interior of the tumuli?
- Unfortunately, it is not possible to look inside any of the tumuli. However, the Sakai City Museum exhibits a stone sarcophagus reproduction, and also has a virtual reality system that can be used to view a CG sarcophagus.
urthermore, Fujiidera City's Shiseki Shiroyama Kofun Guidance Building Mahora Shiroyama features a reproduced stone sarcophagus as well as reproductions of the ceiling stones used in the chamber containing the original sarcophagus.
- Is it possible to use my own bicycle or a rental bicycle to explore the Mozu Tumulus Cluster area?
- Yes. In fact, the Daisen Park Tourist Information Center rents out bicycles to visitors, so please stop by if you are interested in using one.
- Is it possible to view the tumuli from a helicopter or airplane?
- Aircraft tours of the Mozu and Furuichi Tumulus Clusters are available. They depart from multiple locations including Yao Airport and the Maishima Heliport.