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2020-08-21 12:25:28

Mimizuka Kurgan in Kyoto

Mimizuka Kurgan in Kyoto

Relations between Japan and China are a separate, complex topic for research, a painful topic for these countries. The Japanese, who were barbarians for the ancient enlightened China, tried to conquer the Chinese for centuries. Destroying the enemy, they managed, nevertheless, to assimilate much of what was the treasures of Chinese culture. The Japanese do not like to talk about it, but many of the achievements of Japanese art, known all over the world, have Chinese roots: ikebana, bonsai, kabuki theater, and much more. The barbarians were able to appreciate the beauty, to make it a part of their lives. The construction of mounds is one of the ancient arts adopted from the Chinese, into which the Japanese put their souls.


Mounds as part of Japanese culture

The main construction of mounds in Japan (kofun) lasted from the 3rd to the 7th century AD. Burial mounds were built for the burial of members of the imperial families and noble families. This period of time is even called the Kofun era. Japanese kofuns were distinguished by their scale and unusual shape, resembling a keyhole.

The kofuns of the imperial family built multi-level: from 3 to 7 levels, for less noble persons - 1-2 levels. There are more than 160,000 mounds in Japan, and they are not distributed on all islands of the state, but in the regions around the ancient capital of Japan - Kyoto.

Archaeologists have serious difficulties in studying the contents of the burial mounds: the imperial kofuns are protected, they are forbidden to be opened, and the rest were plundered many centuries ago. The only opportunity for archaeologists is to participate in the restoration of the mound: then you can at least partially get acquainted with its secrets.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi: Creative Reflections on Kofun Tradition

An unusual mound, unlike the ancient kofuns in form or content, was erected in Kyoto by order of the Japanese commander and ruler of the 16th century Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The indefatigable warrior and politician Hideyoshi united the disparate Japanese possessions into a single country.

In fulfilling his large-scale tasks, Hideyoshi did not reckon with the expenditure of any resources, including human resources. The Japanese army grew and was updated, Western weapons appeared in it. Having unified Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi decided to expand its possessions by conquering China and India. According to the Japanese of that time, this was the entire civilized world.

Hideyoshi invites the ruler of Korea, who is dependent on China, to act on his side. The Korean van refused, and the formidable Japanese invaded Korea. In 1592, 1,000 Japanese ships delivered a 160,000-strong army to the Korean Peninsula, with orders not to spare anyone. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who remained in Kyoto, wanted to know exactly how many people were killed in enemy territory: the heads of the dead were chopped off, salted and sent to Japan, where a strict record of the dead was kept. As the troops moved deeper into the peninsula, the severed heads became more and more, so there were difficulties with sending. The problem demanded a solution, and now they did not cut off the head of the killed enemy, but cut off the nose or ear. In pursuit of ranks and awards, Japanese soldiers often cut off the noses and ears of living people, so the officials' calculations cannot be considered absolutely reliable. However, the numbers they operate are terrifying - over 200,000 victims.

They buried the terrible trophies in 2 places: in Kyoto and Okayama. In Kyoto, Hideyoshi ordered to build a 9-meter mound at the Hoko-ji Buddhist temple and bury noses and ears in it. The mound is decorated with a Buddhist obelisk.

"Mound of noses" or "mound of ears": which sounds nicer?

The burial was originally called the Mound of Noses - Nanazuka. This name seemed dissonant to the Japanese, and it was renamed the Mound of Ears - Mimizuka, which, apparently, sounds much nicer.

Buddhist priests consider the construction of this unusual mound to be a manifestation of belated mercy on the part of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, almost remorse. And in Korea they think that in this way Hideyoshi wanted to rise, to remind of his victories.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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