Next, we headed to Komori-zuka Burial Mound, which apparently has the largest horizontal stone chamber in Kibi.
As we walked along a peaceful path, a mountain covered in thick vegetation came into view.
The entrance was covered with trees and appeared to be completely dark when viewed from afar, and it looked almost as if it was beckoning us to the underworld.
After going down several flights of stairs, we proceeded into the burial mound.
In the passage that led to the rear burial chamber, the walls were made of large, neatly stacked stones. I wondered how the stones could have been carried here and stacked in this way. While the existence of this structure is of course the result of wisdom, ingenuity, and an unimaginable labor force, simply seeing these stones was overwhelming.
We then arrived at the burial chamber.
While unfortunately we were not able to go inside, it was possible to see a stone sarcophagus, and behind this a rock so enormous that it made me ponder how it could have been quarried. Apparently having a single enormous rock like this one is a feature of stone chambers in Kibi.
The rock was so incredibly large that I am hesitant to try to describe it in simple terms.
I wondered what drove the rulers of the era to build this stone chamber. During the construction, there may have been collapses and people may have been crushed by stones. Why did they want to build this huge stone chamber in spite of such dangers?
In various ways, I could sense the immeasurable power of humans.
As we were leaving, when I looked toward the entranceway from the stone chambers, I could see the light-filled sky expanding ahead, and it felt as though we were returning to the present world from the underworld. Perhaps stone chambers are places where people are reborn. This is the impression that the Komori-zuka Burial Mound left me with.
Finally heading to keyhole-shaped Tsukuriyama (造山) Burial Mound that is fourth largest burial mound in Japan
The mound here is stacked in three tiers, and using the stairs, we arrived at the top. We first of all took a look at the stone sarcophagus located at the front "square end" of the mount that was supposedly brought here from faraway Uto-shi, Kumamoto Prefecture. Unlike the sarcophagi in stone chambers that I had seen up to that point, this one seemed to be set out in a very casual manner, and this was somewhat perplexing. Then, not far from here, we found and observed a capstone that was also set out in a casual manner, and the inside of it was painted with reddish colcothar marks. Even today, red is considered to be the color of life throughout the world, and the insides of sarcophagi are often painted completely red. As such, it seems that this capstone was probably painted red to express "resurrection."
We walked along the spine of the burial mound in order to go from the front to the rear "circular end." Apparently during cherry-blossom season, many families have picnics here. Enjoying a Japanese lunch box while viewing cherry blossoms on top of a burial mound seems like a peculiar but interesting idea.
Excavation work has not been carried out here so the details regarding who is buried here are unknown. Nevertheless, I am sure that whoever is buried here is pleased to be able to sometimes hear the merry voices of children.
As I imagined this, we arrived at the rear "circular end" of the mound, where there was an expansive view of the city of Okayama.
While there are currently many private homes here, when the mound was under construction, there was undoubtedly a vast expanse of rice fields. It seems that Kibi engaged in extensive rice production making use of its fertile plains, and this is what enabled it to become so powerful. It is estimated that the total number of people mobilized for construction of the Tsukuriyama (造山) Burial Mound up to the time of its completion was more than 1.5 million. There are rarely leaders who can mobilize such large numbers of people and put to use such vast amounts of energy and resources…
Mystery of Mr. Takeda’s comment solved!
Perhaps "treasure" refers to the rich land of Kibi, and the iron that was produced during the period of thriving iron production here, particularly in the latter half of the 6th century. It seems that the Yamato court tried to repress Kibi since it wanted to acquire such treasures. Maybe this conflict formed the basis for the Tale of Momotaro in which Ura (the forces of Kibi) battled Kibitsuhiko (the Yamato court)… Thus the Tale of Momotaro may have developed as memories and folklore were passed down over and over again from one generation to the next.
Someone from Okayama made the following comment.
"In Okayama, ogres are more popular than Momotaro."
This may be due a friendly magic spell that the lonely Ura cast on future generations of people when he was buried underground at Okamaden in Kibitsu Shrine.