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Yayoi no Kaze Park: Home of the Oldest Royal Tomb in Japan

In the Yoshitake district of Nishi Ward, numerous ruins dating as far back as the Old Stone Age (20,000 years ago) have been unearthed. What are considered the most important of these ruins, dating back to the Middle Yayoi period (between 2,200 and 2,000 years ago), can be found in the Yoshitake-Takagi Site, which was named a nationally designated historic site in 1993. Part of the site was turned into the Yayoi no Kaze Park which opened this April.

Since several wooden and jar coffins were discovered on the site along with abundant burial goods, it is believed to be the final resting place for some ancient local power brokers. The discovery of bronze mirrors, bronze swords, and beads—the so-called Three Regalia—have garnered significant attention since these burial goods later came to be associated with the Imperial Family. Their existence has led the site to be considered the oldest royal tomb in Japan.

A line of big holes, each ranging from one to 1.5 meters in diameter, can be seen in one corner of the site, and these are thought to be the postholes for the pillars of a building, which could have been as large as 182 ㎡. If this estimate is correct, this would have been one of the largest structures of the Yayoi period. Scholars believe this suggests the existence of an ancient kingdom predating the kingdoms of Ito and Wa, which are mentioned in ancient Chinese historical records.

The new Yayoi no Kaze Park affords access to part of the historical site along with views of Mt. Iimori and the natural beauty of the western end of the city. The park features recreations of Yayoi period terrain and vegetation as well as replica jar coffins and other artifacts. One display traces the history of the site from the Old Stone Age up through the Edo period, and there are walking paths and open spaces perfect for picnicking. Meanwhile, the Three Regalia excavated from the site are on display at the Fukuoka City Museum.

Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn225, September 2017)

Fukuoka City
Published: Aug 28, 2017 / Last Updated: Jun 4, 2019

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