Chapter 35 is a continued part of chapter 2 | Joko-to (上古刀）. Please read chapter 2 before this section.
The red circle indicates the time we discuss this section.
The Kofun (古墳) culture appeared around the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries. Kofuns are massive burial places for powerful rulers. Kofuns are often Zenpo-koen-fun (前方後円墳) which is, the front part is a square and the back is round. If you look at it from the sky, it shapes like a keyhole. The largest Kofun is the Nintoku Tenno Ryo (仁徳天皇陵) in Osaka. This is the tomb of Emperor Nintoku. The size is 480 m X 305 m, and the height is 35 m. Inside the Kofun, we found swords, armors, bronze mirrors, jewelry, iron, and metal tools. Sometimes, iron itself was found. Only the ruling class possessed the iron since it was considered a very precious item then. Outskirts of the Kofun, a large number of Haniwa*¹ were placed. There are several theories for the purpose of Haniwa. One is as a retaining wall, and another is as a dividing line between the sacred area and the common area. And there are several more theories.
Originally, Haniwa were just simple tube shape. Eventually, they became interesting clay figurines such as smiling people, smiling soldiers, dogs with a bell around the neck, women with a hat, farmers, houses, monkeys, ships, birds, etc. Some of them were very elaborately made and very cute. From the looks of them, people in those days seem to have been wearing elaborate clothes. The Haniwa figurines are very popular among children in Japan. We use to have a children’s TV program, a Haniwa is the main character.
Haniwas suggest to us what people’s life was like then. Their facial expressions are all happy and smiling. According to the old Japanese history book, “Nihon Shoki” (日本書紀: The oldest Japanese history book completed during the Nara period.), Haniwas were the replacement of martyrdom, but it hasn’t been proven.
From another huge Kofun, Ogonzuka Kofun (黄金塚古墳) in Osaka, they found a sword and bronze mirrors, among other items. Refer 2 | Joko-to (上古刀）. The writing below is from my college day notebook.
The professor explained how to determine the time a particular item had been made by reading half-disappeared characters on the items such as a bronze mirror or a sword. For example, there was a sword, the hilt of it was made in Japan, and the blade was made in China. It had a round hilt and, on it, showed some Chinese characters. It said, “中平［ ］年.” The third letter was not legible. But we knew 中平 year was between 184 to 189 AD, and “年” indicated “year.” Therefore it was made sometime between 184 to 189. And this sword came out from the 4th-century tomb.
Also, he explained that many nested Doutaku (銅鐸)*² had been excavated from many places. They were nested inside one another. Doutaku was a musical instrument for rituals. Therefore, scholars believe that the people then hid Doutaku in a hurry and escaped quickly when they were being attacked by their enemies.
In many countries, excavation may be time-consuming, tedious work, and often takes a long time to find anything. But in Japan, it is not as hard as in other countries. We often find things. It may not be what you are looking for, but we excavate artifacts quite often.
Sitting Shrine Maiden*1, Owned by National Museum. This photo is public domain 腰かける巫女（群馬県大泉町古海出土）国立博物館蔵
Doutaku*2 Excavated from Shiga Prefecture Displayed at Tokyo National Museum The public domain photo 滋賀県野洲市小篠原字大岩屋出土突線紐５式銅鐸 東京国立博物館展示