The mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku

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The world’s largest mausoleum is in the Japanese city of Sakai, southeast of Osaka. Most tourists who come to Japan through Kansai International Airport go directly to Kyoto or Osaka, unaware that very near the airport there is an interesting city rich in history and culture: Sakai.

The mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku

Photography by www.city.sakai.lg.jp

In Sakai are preserved almost a hundred burial mounds shows that Japan was ruled by powerful kings and emperors in early AD. These great lords appear referenced in the old history books in China and in the chronicles Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, but are also attached to their magnificent tombs many small mound tombs of nobles who once formed the elite of medieval society Japanese.

The Kofun, burial mounds or large, appeared in the third century and continued until the seventh century built throughout Japan. This is as distinctive and defining feature of Japanese culture throughout this period is called the Kofun Period. It was the time where big Japanese monarchs emerged, powerful warlords who conquered town after town that would later emperors of a unified nation. Not many burial mounds are preserved today as those that existed in his day, as some have collapsed over time and many were lost due to bombing during the Second World War.

It so happens that a number of burial mounds in the shape called Sakai Zenpô koen-fun (keyhole lock), made unique and characteristic of the ancient burial tombs in Japan and is not anywhere else in the world .

The largest tomb in the world:

The largest of all tomb holds the remains of Emperor Nintoku. This mausoleum is of gigantic proportions, it is the largest tomb ever built in history. Has 486 feet long and 464,124 m2 of surface area surpassing the Great Pyramid of King Khufu (Cheops) in Egypt and the Mausoleum of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, Qin dynasty.

It is estimated that Japan had in the V century a population of about five or six million people. For the construction of the mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku is believed to have carried 2,000,000 cubic meters of land, equivalent to the load carried by 720,000 current ten-ton trucks. If two thousand people have worked daily in the construction of the Mausoleum of Nintoku, would have taken fifteen to twenty years to complete the works.

The Emperor Nintoku:

The emperor was the sixteenth Nintoku emperor of Japan according to traditional historical records that are preserved. Apart from this figure contrasted, the rest of the data having to do with the life and works of this emperor are very difficult to prove, and almost lost in time. No one knows the approximate date of birth, or how long he lived or reigned. It is considered that reigned in the Japanese islands at the end of the fourth century AD or the beginning of V, but has not found enough material to confirm this.

According to legend, Nintoku wanted his brother to take his place on the throne, so he refused to become emperor for about three years. His brother did not want to reign, and reportedly committed suicide to finally assume its responsibilities Nintoku.

Another legend tells how the emperor once observed Nintoku your domains from a high tower, and realized that there was no smoke of any houses that could see with his eyes. The emperor blamed that his people were so poor that they had no rice to boil, so he used the wealth of his palace to provide food for poor people in Japan. The palace was stripped and reduced to ruins, but the situation of his subjects improved. When the Empress asked how she was permitted to remain in absolute poverty and misery the royal palace, Nintoku replied that an emperor is so poor or rich as his subjects, so to improve their situation had also improved their own.

It is assumed that the remains of Emperor Nintoku lie under the great mausoleum of the same name, on the island-shaped key lock. No one has proven yet. If so, Nintoku can boast the largest tomb ever built.

Getting to the Mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku:

An easy way to get there is go to the train stations or Namba Tenno-ji Station, take the train to JR Hanwa and get off at Mozu (about 30 minute ride). Other stations found are 50 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station and Kansai International Airport. Once at the station Mozu of Sakai, we have only five minutes walk to reach the mausoleum.

Walking around the holy land:

The gigantic monument is surrounded by three moats and covered with pines, cedars and cypresses. We can walk around the outside perimeter of the mausoleum of Nintoku to get an idea of its dimensions, but we are not allowed access. Even the archaeologists are allowed to enter an area that is considered sacred in Japan. The same goes for the rest of the imperial tombs. These mausoleums are currently under the care of the Imperial Household Agency, which manages everything related to Japanese crown.

According to this agency the tombs are more than just a repository of historical artifacts, are sacred sites, shrines where rest the spirits of the ancestors of the Japanese Imperial Household.  The site contains much of the culture and history of Japan is well worth seeing!

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