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Welcome to the Chikatsu Asuka Musuem

The mausoleums of the 5th century Emperors Nintoku and Ojin, located in the Osaka suburbs, rank amongst the largest burial mounds in the world. Their size and construction of these tombs is a clear display of the most advanced knowledge and technology of early Japan. These and other giant majestic tumuli in the area drew attention from overseas even when they were first built, as attested by the mentions of the "Five Kings of Wa" in early Chinese Chronicles. Our knowledge of early Japanese history would be largely blank if not for the numerous mentions of these monumental structures and their owners.

The area known as Chikatsu Asuka, located in southeastern Osaka Prefecture, holds a number of impressive historical and cultural assets from Japan’s Kofun Period (approximately 250-700 A.D.).

The Chikatsu Asuka region is home to the Shinagadani valley, also known as the "valley of mausoleums", which contains the tumuli of four emperors and Prince Shotoku. The area also contains the richly endowed tumuli of government officials, which show influence from the continental mainland of Asia with their sarcophagus-style stone chambers. The variety of noble-family tomb designs in the area is also impressive, including keyhole-shaped burial mounds, keyhole-shaped burial mounds with quadrangular rear-mounds, gourd-shaped burial mounds, as well as large square burial mounds. The Ichisuka tumulus cluster of smaller burial mounds contains tombs belonging to many powerful families of the time. The Chikatsu Asuka has 8th century tombs containing imperial metal belt fittings and epitaphs, splendid temples representative of the Ritsuryo aristo-bureaucracy, the remains of ancient government offices, the Takenouchi official road, and other historic places and artifacts too numerous to note here.

A prominent overall feature in the cultural heritage of Chikatsu Asuka is the wealth of overseas influence evident in the relics found here. The historic secrets of ancient interchange between Japan and its Asian neighbors now lie sealed within the confines of tumuli and temples here. At the time, many cultural elements and people newly arrived from China and the Korean peninsula became involved in the ruling elite’s recasting of the Japanese government which began in the 7th century. At the time, Japan began forging a new system of government modeled off China’s government structure. We have been able to learn much about the changes that went on during this period thanks to artifacts found within Chikatsu Asuka region tombs and temples. The epochal transformation of government had effects on all kinds of culture in the historical world of Chikatsu Asuka.

Luckily, many cultural assets enshrining information from these ancient times have remained in relatively good condition. They have been safely stored away for centuries in tombs now surrounded by natural greenery

In many ways the entire Chikatsu Asuka area is a history museum itself. The abundant greenery in the surrounding mountains and tombs are evocative of a period novel, and let you see a little of what the world of the Kofun Period must have been like. There is no place more suitable to experience learning about history and culture, or for continuing education based on local resources, than here in Chikatsu Asuka.

What is Chikatsu Asuka?

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Chikatsu Asuka is a region name which was first recorded in writing in the Kojiki, a text of ancient Japanese myths compiled in 712 A.D. During the 7th century, Asuka was where the Emperor lived. The step-brother of the Emperor Richu (who later became the Emperor Hanzei) named a region located nearby downtown Osaka “Chikatsu Asuka”, which literally means “close to Asuka.” Later, when he was travelling between Naniwa in Osaka and Isonokami Shrine in Nara he came across another region which he named “Totsu Asuka”, since it was further away.

The Chikatsu Asuka area mainly covers the surroundings of the Habikino City area in Osaka Prefecture. Totsu Asuka refers to Asuka in Nara Prefecture, which is further away from downtown Osaka.

Chikatu Asuka is along the Takenouchi Road, an ancient official road that links Naniwa bay (Osaka Bay) and Totsu Asuka in Nara. Around the Takenouchi Road sprawl numerous kofun, ancient burial mounds, which were built between the 5th to 7th centuries A.D. At the time, many people who had come from Korean peninsula and Chinese continent lived in this area.