Exploring the symbols of Japan's rich and complex history is sure to be a highlight of your trip, and these kofun (mounded tombs) are perhaps one of the best examples of just that.
These ancient mounded tombs of the high-ranking elite take you back to the Kofun period between the late 3rd and the late 6th centuries CE. In particular, the Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group comprises a magnificent 49 mounds (UNESCO registered) spread out over the Mozu and Furuichi areas of Sakai, Habikino and Fujiidera Cities. The largest is the Nintoku-tenno-ryo Kofun, the tomb of Emperor Nintoku, a massive 486-meter-long and 34.8-meter-high structure that is one of the three largest burial mounds in the world, and has been proudly registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2019.
Though from a distance, a kofun may appear as just a primitive burial mound covered by trees, these mounds are in fact phenomenal architectonical pieces, carefully designed according to a highly sophisticated funerary system that embodied the socio-political structure of the time. The Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group clearly demonstrates the diversity of these kofun, with a wide range of sizes from 10 to nearly 500 meters in length, various shapes―including the geometrically elaborate designs of a keyhole, a scallop shell, a circle or a square―and significant decorations of paving stones and clay figures called “haniwa”. All of these characteristics, together with the types of burial chambers and grave goods found inside, help us to identify the period and the status of each kofun.
So why not go for a hike—circling the the Nintoku-tenno-ryo Kofun will take you on an almost 3-kilometer trek, making for excellent exercise—listen to the sounds of the local fauna, and take in the beauty of these ancient wonders in any of Japan's four seasons? After that, you'll want to stop by the Sakai City Museum, located just next door. With a movie presentation, exhibition gallery, and VR tour—among other exhibits—you're sure to gain an even deeper appreciation for these remarkable relics of a bygone age.
Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group World Heritage Management Local Council (Osaka Prefecture, Sakai City, Habikino City, Fujiidera City)
Osaka Prefectural Government Sakishima Building 37F
1-14-16 Nanko-kita, Suminoe-ku, Osaka Prefecture
Airport: Kansai International Airport
Please kindly understand that most of the kofun are off-limits to the visitors, they can be only observed from the outside area.