The Mausoleum of Empress Iwa no Hime
The Kofun of Empress Iwa no Hime
This kofun appears on Google Maps as ヒシアゲ or hi-shi-a-ge, but according to the Imperial Household Agency this is the tomb of Empress Iwa no Hime. The kofun appears to have been constructed in the mid to late 400s.
Iwa no hime mikoto means Princess Iwa, Iwa no hime kōgō means Empress Iwa.
|Location||135.8002° E 34.7004° N|
|Circle diameter||124 meters|
|Width at base||145 meters|
|Height of circle||16.2 meters|
|Height of bottom end||13.6 meters|
You can see the JASDF Nara Air Base in the map below. It's small, squeezed in between three kofun and a highway. It's some small officers' training school. No runways, not much in the way of antennas.
From the Konabe Kofun continue north a short distance on a small road. A road runs to the west, continue past that for a short distance. A parallel walking path runs to the west. A short distance from the road it starts to run along the southern edge of the moat of this kofun.
The moat is shallow. It looks as though it continues most of the way around the kofun, but it is swampy and at least partly filled in through much of that.
The Kofun of Empress Iwa-no-hime has a nice worship area. I've read that a traditional shrine design includes a fence called the tamagaki that blocks public access to the oratory or hall of offerings.
I have noticed that these Imperial kofun have two layers of tamagaki, two fences. There is a first fence, then an area of raked gravel.
Then, a few steps up to another tamagaki or fence, and another area of raked gravel. Then the torii, and a short distance beyond that, a drop into the moat.
People visit the kofun, and someone maintains them and keeps the gravel raked.
A Kofun With a Supposedly Known Burial
The last two kofun were quite vague, as the Imperial Household Agency hasn't even decided on which legendary figure to claim is buried in either one.
Princess Iwa, who became the Empress consort of Emperor Nintoku, was a poet. She was the daughter of Katsuragi no Sotsuhiko and claimed to be a descendant of the 8th Emperor, Kōgen. Nintoku was the 16th Emperor of Japan, reigning roughly from 313 to 399.
Poetry attributed to Iwa are included in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, the compilations of myths and genealogical legends compiled in the 710s. So it's as if she exists only because she wrote legendary stories about herself.
The poems include those she exchanged with her husband, Emperor Nintoku. That sounds terribly romantic, until you find the description in the history text The Six National Histories of Japan by Taro Sakamoto. These are rage-poems from a princess who was angry that the palace wasn't being maintained:
In the volume on Emperor Nintoku, the Emperor is exalted as a sage, and many elements of the story are legendary, starting with the explanation of his virtue of humility and love for the people and including such things as his being afflicted by the bitter resentment of the Empress Iwo Hime. She complained because he gave tax relief to the people at the cost of having the palace deteriorate. [...]
The above is specific to the kofun around Nara. Or maybe you want to explore other places in Japan.
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