Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

May 26, 2012

Graves with a View - Boso Fudoki no Oka, Chiba (Museums)

Boso Fudoki-no-Oka is a scenic, historical park covering 32 hectares, laid out on a hill dotted with about 120 old tumulus graves. Although lying close to Narita, Tokyo's International Airport, the thunder of jets does not reach here and the park proves remarkably tranquil. There are small grave mounds, not more than tiny knolls, lying in the shade of large trees, but also imposing, grassy mounds. The park is situated on a low ridge, with the wide Kanto plain at one’s feet, as if the dead have been honored with VIP seats. The tombs belong to clan heads and nobility from the third to seventh century, the so-called Kofun period. Judging from their relatively small size, the mounds of Boso probably are from the end of that period, when tomb building was already in decline.

Tombs on a ridge
[Model of a grave with haniwa figures. Photo © Ad Blankestijn]

The park's museum, a redbrick building, displays items that have been unearthed from tumuli (kofun) in the area. The museum consists of one room downstairs and an upper gallery. There are hundreds of clay haniwa of grave figures, houses, horses and even small birds. On display are also stone grave-pillows, jewelry, stirrups, and mirrors. It is always interesting to see how the iron swords have crumbled due to the passage of time, while the haniwa clay figures are still as fresh as when new. There are also potsherds of Sue ware and some sutra containers. Nearby Ryukakuji Temple is represented by fragments of old tiles. Upstairs Jomon and Yayoi pottery is shown, as well as a selection of dogu figures, all items of a period long before the tumulus graves were built.

The Chiba prefectural government has relocated the wooden auditorium of a nineteenth century elementary school as well as two old farmhouses to the park. Although the smallish museum alone perhaps does not warrant the long trip here, in combination with the fascinating park it makes an excellent weekend destination, especially if you walk there from Shimosu-Manzaki Station on the Narita line.
Tel. 0476-95-3126

Hrs. 9:00 – 16:30; Cl Mon (next day if NH), NY.

Access: From Ajiki Station on the JR Narita Line take a bus bound for the west entrance of Fudoki no Oka, then walk 10 min; alternatively, it is a 30 min walk from Shimosa-Manzaki Station on the JR Narita Line to the park's east or main entrance. Shimosa-Manzaki is about 1.15 hrs. from Ueno Station in Tokyo (take a Joban line train from Ueno to Abiko and there transfer to a train going in the direction of Narita on the Narita line). In the same park one finds a sort of Edo-period Chiba village with reconstructions of old shops and houses where visitors can practice various crafts, the Chiba Prefectural Boso no Mura Museum (Boso Village).