Kubizuka (tomb of heads) (首塚)

Kubizuka (tomb of heads) is a tomb for the repose of those souls whose heads (kubi; literally means neck in Japanese) were severed because they were killed in battles and the likes, or captured, or punished by beheadings.

In Japan war performances were verified by identifying the heads of those killed in the battle; in order to console those heads, many Kubizuka were built.

There are Kubizuka enshrining a single person (like an enemy samurai commander) who was feared to become Onryo (a vengeful ghost) later, and also there are Kubizuka enshrining many solders killed in one battle (in a huge battle like the Battle of Sekigahara) together even though they were zohyo (common soldiers); a great number of both types of Kubizuka still exist throughout Japan.

Kubizuka across Japan

Kubizuka of Mitsuhide AKECHI: located at the side of `Mochitora`-a Japanese confectionery shop-at Sanjo-Sagaru (to the south of Sanjo), Shirakawa-dori Street, Kyoto City. Kubizuka of Amakusa Shiro, (also being referred to as Senninzuka [memorial mound of 1000 people]): located at the ruins of Hara castle in Kami Amakusa City, Kumamoto Prefecture. Kubizuka of Katsuyori ASARI: located at Hiyama, Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture. Kubizuka for the dead in the Battle of Kawanakajima: two Kubizuka inside and one outside of the Hachimanpara historic park, Nagano City. Kubizuka of Yoshinaka KISO (also being referred to as Yasaka haka; haka literally means a tomb): located at Hokan-ji Temple, Yasui Higashiyama, Kyoto City. Kubizuka for the dead in the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute: located at Yazako, Nagakute-cho, Aichi Prefecture. Kubizuka of Isami KONDO: located at Hozo-ji Temple, Motojuku, Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture. Kubizuka of SOGA no Iruka: located at Asuka-mura, Takaichi-gun, Nara Prefecture. Kubizuka of TAIRA no Masakado: located at Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku (Chiyoda Ward), Tokyo. Kubizuka of Nobuyasu MATSUDAIRA: located at Moriguro, Asahi-cho, Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture. Kubizuka of Oni (Ogre): located along National Route 21, Mitake-cho Naka, Kani-gun, Gifu Prefecture.

Related subjects

Mimizuka (tomb of ears) is a tomb where the ears of the killed persons in the Bunroku-Keicho War were said to be gathered and buried as the substitute of heads, because it was impossible to bring back the severed heads from overseas; it has the same meaning as Kubizuka. It is located near the front of present-day Toyokuni-jinja Shrine (Kyoto City), where originally was in front of the gate of Hoko-ji Temple in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City.

[Original Japanese]