Sakurai Chausuyama-kofun Tumulus (a huge keyhole-shaped mound in the beginning of the early Kofun pe (桜井茶臼山古墳)

Sakurai Chausuyama Kofun is a huge keyhole-shaped mound constructed in the beginning of the early Kofun period located in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. It is also called Tobi Chausuyama-kofun Tumulus.


This tumulus is a 207-meter long Ekagami-shiki tumulus (hand mirror-type keyhole-shaped mound) with the hand mirror-shaped front square part located on the left bank of the Hase-gawa River abutting on the Iware region. It is comparatively new one among the tumuli of the early Kofun period and is a huge keyhole-shaped tumulus constructed following Hashihaka Tumulus. This tumulus was not known in the academic world for some time after the World War II. It is a hand mirror-type keyhole-shaped tumulus utilizing a natural hill and covered by bush, which looks like a mere hill. There is a slightly less than two-meter high, 9.75-meter and 12.5-meter Kukei-dan (rectangular platform) with stuck stones (bricks) located on the top of the back circular part and porous Tsubogata doki earthenware (Niju Koen tsubogata doki [earthenware in a shape like double rim pot]) are placed squarely surrounding the foot of the platform. Apart from the above, Haniwa (clay figures) were not placed on the burial mound. There are no subsidiary tumuli covered by a fukiishi (a stone covering an old tomb) on the terraced layers.

There is Munakata-jinja Shrine (Sakurai City) located outside the dry moat of the back circular part of this tumulus. This shrine was dedicated to the same god as Munakata-jinja Shrine in Munakata County, Chikuzen Province was. While the Munakata-jinja Shrines throughout Japan, this particular Shrine in Yamato was unknown about when it was enshrined and when the Shaden (shrine building) was built. However, the fact that one of the Munakata-jinja Shrines originated from the northern Kyushu is located in Yamato is worthy of attention.

A research by radar scan in 2007 confirmed the existence of a rockwork underground drain ditch for draining the rainwater sunk into the soil of the burial mound.

Burial facilities

It is known that there was a 9.75-meter and 12.5-meter Kukei-dan with the estimated height of a slightly less than two meters with stuck stones located on the top of the back circular part, and Nijukoen Tsubogata doki earthenware were placed around the foot of the platform. Furthermore, under the above platform, there was a vertical stone chamber in which a long coffin with the length of 6.7 meters was kept but the chamber had already been robbed.

Burial goods

It is a typical combination of burial goods of the early tumuli, which is characterized by making bronze mirrors, gems and weapons including Ken (sword of sharpened two edges) and Katana (a sword) as a set.

At least, 13 pieces of mirrors in 9 categories were buried, that is, 1 piece each of Shaen Nishin Niju-kyo (a mirror with raised edge and relief engraving of two animals and two gods), Hokakukiku shishin-kyo Mirror (a round mirror with a square pattern in the middle and engraving of four gods), Jutai kyo (round mirror of animal pattern) and Hirabuchi (listel) Shinju-kyo Mirror (a mirror with relief engraving of animals), 3 pieces of Naiko Kamon-kyo Mirror (a mirror with patterns like a flower-petal) and 6 pieces of four types of Sankakubuchi Shinju-kyo Mirror (a round mirror with raised edge and relief engraving of animals and gods) on the basis of the restored pieces from fragments.

Necklaces made of Hisui (jade) Magadama (comma-shaped beads), glass cylindrical beads, small beads and so on
Weapons including iron swords, iron swords of sharpened two edges and copper arrowhead
Bracelets made of Hekigyoku (jasper)
Gyokujo (jasper cane)

[Original Japanese]