Tomb of the powerful local ruling Soga family in the 6th century,
this tomb built by gigantic stones is a must-see in Nara
Ishibutai Kofun is the largest rectangular tomb in Japan. This tomb, which is famous for its form created by piling up huge stones, is about 55m from east to west and about 52 m from north to south. It takes us back to Asuka Period (592-710). According to the widely-accepted theory, the tomb was built in the 6th century for Soga no Umako, who was the most powerful person in the region. Situated in the Ishibutai part of the Asuka Historical National Government Park, the tomb is a sightseeing spot representative of the area, attracting many tourists on weekends. It was designated as a special historic spot of Japan in 1952.
The tomb is called "Ishibutai" (stone stage) because the wide and flat upper surface of the ceiling stone looks like a stage. The stone used as a ceiling weighs about 140 tons. There are still many unsolved mysteries including how these gigantic stones were assembled in an age without the crane. As the earth which used to cover the huge horizontal stone chamber is gone, the exposed structure looks fantastic and mysterious. There are also fascinating stories about Ishibutai, such as that a fox disguised as a woman danced on the stone, and that traveling entertainers danced on the stage of the stone.
You can even enter the tomb to sense every inch of its great scale. Because the place is beautiful during the cherry blossom season in spring and snow in winter, many people come here to shoot pictures.
Phone: 0744-54-4577 (Asukamura Village Sightseeing Development Public Corporation)
Hours open to visitors: 8:30-17:00
Admission Fee: 250 yen
Closed: Open throughout the year
Directions: From Kansai Airport via Tennoji Station. Take the Nara Kotsu Bus for Asuka Station at Kintetsu Kashihara Jingumae (one hour and 15 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station), ride for about 30 minutes, get off at Ishibutai and walk for 3 minutes. (Car) 30 minutes from Katsuragi Interchange of the Minami Hanna Expressway.