HOME Kansai Osaka Sakai Registered as a World Heritage Site! Guide to Mozu Tombs and surrounding area
Registered as a World Heritage Site! Guide to Mozu Tombs and surrounding area

Registered as a World Heritage Site! Guide to Mozu Tombs and surrounding area

Date published: 18 November 2019

The Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun, Ancient Tumulus Clusters, were registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in July 2019. Among them, there are 44 old burial mounds, including one of the world's three largest tombs, that of the Emperor Nintoku. In this article we will explain what kofun, ancient tombs, are, how to visit them, other places of interest, and dishes with an ancient tomb theme.

What exactly is a kofun?

What exactly is a kofun?
Provided by Sakai Tourism Convention Association

Kofun, also known as megalithic tombs, are gigantic burial mounds that were built between the latter half of the 3rd century and the latter half of the 6th century. They are large mounds in which people of high status were buried at that time. They are configured in the shape of a keyhole described as being square at the front and rounded at the rear, the front area being short so that they very much resemble scallop shells which also results in them as being described as scallop-shaped mounds, their sizes ranging from about 10 meters upwards. The largest one is more than 400 meters in size.

Amazing features of the Mozu Tombs!

Amazing features of the Mozu Tombs!

The Mozu Tombs cluster is spread over about a 4-kilometer area going east to west and north to south within the city of Sakai. There are several large burial mounds here, such as the tomb of Emperor Nintoku (the largest mound in Japan), the tomb of Emperor Richu (the third largest), and the Nisanzai Tombs. Today 44 tombs remain, however during the 4th to 5th centuries more than one hundred such tombs were built in this area. Nowhere else in Japan can so many different shaped ancient tombs ranging in sizes and scale be found in one area such as here which also includes the Furuichi Burial Mounds.

This will give you an idea of the kofun’s scale

This will give you an idea of the kofun’s scale
Provided by Sakai City Culture and Tourism Bureau

The Emperor Nintoku Mausoleum is said to be one of the world's three largest tombs, along with the pyramid of King Kufu in Egypt, and the Mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor of China. This keyhole-style burial mound is the longest in the world at 486 meters.

You can get an overall view of it from the observation lobby in city hall

You can get an overall view of it from the observation lobby in city hall

The observation lobby is on the 21st floor of the city hall. From this height of 80 meters you can get a panoramic view of the city from the lobby which revolves 360 degrees making this the highest place from which to observe the tomb of Emperor Nintoku. The tomb is covered in a thick cluster of trees. You can get a good idea of its scale compared to buildings near it.

  • Sakai City Hall
    堺市役所
    • Address 3-1 Minamikawaramachi, Sakai-ku, Sakai, Osaka

    Telephone: 072-233-5258 (Sakai Tourism Convention Association)
    Open: 9:00 a.m. ~ 9:00 p.m.

Experience the size of these places of worship by walking around the ancient tombs

Experience the size of these places of worship by walking around the ancient tombs
Provided by Sakai City Culture and Tourism Bureau

Emperor Nintoku's burial mound, along with the others, are mausoleums of emperors and members of the Imperial Family and as such, entry is prohibited. However, there are sacred areas indicated by Torii gates facing the tombs where individuals can worship or pay their respects. There is such a place at the front of the keyhole-shaped Emperor Nintoku Mausoleum (located at the southern end of the burial mound). This is a good place to visit. There is a 2.85-kilometer long path going around the outer moat of the tumulus which you can walk. Walking along it will give you a good idea of its scale as seen by people of that time.

If you would like to see what it is like inside the burial mound, you can take a virtual tour of it at the museum.

If you would like to see what it is like inside the burial mound, you can take a virtual tour of it at the museum.
Provided by Sakai Tourism Convention Association
Provided by Sakai Tourism Convention Association

The Sakai City Museum is located in Daisen Park, which is almost in the center of the Mozu-Kofun Tumulus Cluster. There are a number of exhibitions providing information about the Mozu-Furuichi Tumuli as well as artifacts excavated from them and there is also a Mozu-Furuichi Tumulus Cluster Theater that also contains all sorts of information related to the tombs. Highly recommended is the Emperor Nintoku Tumulus VR Tour. Wearing the head-mounted display you will be guided on a tour of the tomb in a 360-degree image that also takes you 300 meters above it for a bird's-eye view of it. You can get a feeling of what the stone interior of the burial mound built about 1,600 years ago, which today is inaccessible, must have been like through a CG recreation of it.

  • Sakai City Museum
    堺市博物館
    • Address Inside Daisen Park, 2-cho Mozusekiunchō, Sakai-ku, Sakai, Osaka
    • Phone Number 072-245-6201

    Open: 9:30 a.m ~ 5:15 p.m. (Last admission 4:30 p.m.)
    Admission fee: General 200 yen, high school students 100 yen, elementary and jr. high students 50 yen (separate charge for special exhibitions); VR experience (including museum permanent exhibition fee) jr. high school and older 800 yen, 7 years and older 500 yen
    Closed: Monday (open during national holidays)

Try Kofun confections with matcha tea

Try Kofun confections with matcha tea

Sakai is the birthplace of Sen no Rikyu, founder of the Senke School of tea ceremony. This being the town where the tea ceremony originated and was nurtured, be sure to try the matcha tea. In the museum grounds there is the Shinan Sakai City Tea Room. Said to be the greatest tea master of his time, Ogi Rodo designed and built the tea house which he used during the Meiji through Showa eras, a structure that was moved from Shiba Park in Tokyo. For 300 yen you can enjoy a cup of matcha tea in this tea ceremony room. You can also try your hand at it between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays. As for the sweets served with the tea, during even-numbered months it is confection in the form of an old burial mound as shown in the photo and during odd-numbered months it is in the form of an old seal that was used by Sen no Rikyu.

  • Sakai City Chashitsu Shin-an
    堺市茶室 伸庵
    • Address Inside Daisen Park, 2-cho Mozusekiunchō, Sakai-ku, Sakai, Osaka
    • Phone Number 072-247-1447

    Hours: 9:30 a.m. ~ 4:30 p.m., (tea ceremony 10:00 a.m. ~ 4:00 p.m.)
    Fee: no charge for observing; 300 yen for the tea ceremony
    Closed: Monday (open during national holidays)

By the way ... there is also the only bicycle museum in Japan!

By the way ... there is also the only bicycle museum in Japan!

The Bicycle Museum Cycle Center is a recommended spot in Daisen Park and it is within walking distance from the Emperor Nintoku Mausoleum. This is the only bicycle museum in Japan and introduces the 200-year history of bicycle development through about 300 actual exhibits. There is also a hands-on corner where you can try out the brakes and gear shifting mechanism, and there are plenty of fun ways to learn about how bicycles work. You can also try riding classic bicycles at Daisen Park Bicycle Plaza, so if you have time, please visit. (2nd and 4th Sundays and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)

  • Bicycle Museum Cycle Center
    自転車博物館サイクルセンター
    • Address 18-2 Daisen Nakamachi, Sakai-ku, Sakai, Osaka
    • Phone Number 072-243-3196

    Open: 10:00 a.m. ~ 4:30 p.m. (Admission until 4:00 p.m.)
    Admission fee: General 200 yen, junior and senior high school and university students 100 yen, elementary school students 50 yen *no charge for elementary and junior high school students on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
    Closed: Monday (day following holiday)

If you want to enjoy tumulus-themed dishes, this is the place to visit

If you want to enjoy tumulus-themed dishes, this is the place to visit

The Goryo Set (1,404 yen) is a popular menu item that is a sandwich with different types of ingredients between soft, sesame seed buns having a tumulus brand and is served on a cutting board in the shape of a burial mound. There are three types of burgers from which to choose: hamburger, herb chicken, and a cutlet burger. The Goryo Set with the 150-gram hamburger is especially recommended. The handmade hamburger is juicy and loaded with vegetables which go fantastically well with the soft buns.

As for sweets, there are four kinds: matcha, hojicha [roasted green tea], custard, and chocolate and the Sakai Pure Pudding is also recommended (280 yen each). This pudding that melts in your mouth is especially popular. It is a tea-based item consisting of matcha and hojicha with a caramel sauce and is highly aromatic. The Kofun board is rather cute, don’t you think? In addition, craft works of 40 artists are displayed in the store having burial mound themes and can be purchased making them perfect for souvenirs.

* All the above prices include tax.

  • Cafe IROHA
    Cafe IROHA
    • Address 2-160 Mozusekiuncho, Sakai-ku, Sakai City, Osaka
    • Phone Number 072-245-0168

    Open: 9:00 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m., (Saturdays, Sundays, holidays from 8:00 a.m.)
    Closed: Monday (the day following a holiday)

Text by: WEST PLAN

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

Share this article.

Recommended places for first-time visitors to Kansai
Search