Sakitama Kofun Cluster (Nationally Designated Special Historic Site)
Located in Sakitama (Gyoda City), the birthplace of Saitama Prefecture’s name, this historical site has 9 large kofun (ancient burial mounds) built clustered together between the latter half of the 5th century to the beginning of the 7th century. The site is surrounded by a park, and one can see sakura (cherry blossoms) in the spring, and Japan’s rural landscape from summer to fall.
The Sakitama Kofun Cluster is made up of 8 large keyhole-shaped burial mounds and 1 large round burial mound. Amongst these, the Futagoyama Burial Mound is the largest keyhole-shaped mound, and the Maruhakayama Burial Mound is one of Japan’s largest round burial mounds, with an impressive diameter of 105 meters.
Also discovered here is the kinsakumei tekken (Inariyam Sword), a 1500-year-old iron sword with gold-inlaid inscriptions comprising of 115 characters on either side, which was excavated from the Inariyama Burial Mound. The sword is an extremely important National Treasure that has proved indispensable to research on the Kofun Period, as it explains relations with the Yamato regime of Eastern Japan.
The Sakitama Kofun Cluster was designated as a National Special Historic Site in 2020. A Special Historic Site is one which has high academic merit, deemed worthy of serving as a symbol of Japanese culture. Equivalent to the value held by a National Treasure (Tangible Cultural Property of Japan), this is Saitama Prefecture’s first such designation.
You can climb the Inariyama and Maruhakayama Burial Mounds, so instead of simply looking up at them from ground-level, you can get a sweeping view of all the mounds from the top.
Inside the Sakitama Kofun Park, which spans approximately 30 hectares, lie tourist facilities related to the ancient burial mounds, including the Saitama Prefectural Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds, where the National Treasure kinsakumei tekken and other objects are on display, and the Gyoda Haniwa no Yakata, where visitors can experience making their own haniwa figures. There is an exhibition on kofun inside the Saitama Prefectural Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds, and one can learn more about the Sakitama Kofun Cluster here.
In the nearby area, you can also find famous sweet shops, restaurants, and onsen (hot springs) local to Gyoda City, so not only can you learn about history, but also enjoy the charms of the locality.
These 9 large kofun (ancient burial mounds) were built over the span of approximately 100 years from the latter half of the 5th century to the beginning of the 7th century. Built in rapid succession over a very short period, this kofun cluster represents the only one of its kind. Why no visit the Sakitama Kofun Cluster and embark on an ancient adventure!?
These are videos introducing the Sakitama Kofun Cluster. Check them out!
Address 4834 Sakitama, Gyoda-shi
TEL 048-559-1111 (Saitama Prefectural Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds)
15 mins by city loop bus from Gyoda Station JR Takasaki Line (get off at Sakitama Kofun Koen-mae stop)
21 mins by city loop bus from Gyoda Station Chichibu Railway (get off at Sakitama Kofun Koen-mae stop)
【Saitama Prefectural Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds】
Open Hours 9 a.m.～4:30 p.m. (entry permitted until 4 p.m.)
Elementary and junior high school students: free
Senior high school and other students: individual (100 yen/person), group (60 yen/person)
General: individual (200 yen/person), group (120 yen/person)
※Groups must contain 20 or more persons.
※Free of charge for those with disability certificates, etc. (includes 1 person as accompaniment).
Mondays (open on national holidays, substitute national holidays, Prefectural Citizens’ Day (Nov. 14), Apr. 29 to May 5), Dec. 29 to Jan. 3
【Gyoda Haniwa no Yakata】
Open Hours 9 a.m.〜4:30 p.m.※Haniwa-making requests are accepted from 9 a.m.〜2:30 p.m.
2 kilograms of clay: 1,000 yen
1 kilogram of clay: 600 yen
Mondays (open on national holidays, closed the following day)
The day following a national holiday (open if the national holiday falls on the weekend)
End-of-the-year and new year (Dec. 27〜Jan. 5)