The Mozu Tombs (百舌鳥古墳群, Mozu Kofungun) are a cluster of several dozen ancient tombs in the Mozu area of Sakai City, immediately south of Osaka City. The cluster, along with some other tombs in the region, makes up the "Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun Ancient Tumulus Structures", which are expected to become Japan's newest Cultural World Heritage Site in summer 2019.
The tombs were built in the 4th to 6th centuries for the ruling elite, with the larger, more elaborately shaped mounds signifying higher status than smaller ones and those of simpler shapes. The largest of the tombs is the Emperor Nintoku Kofun which is believed to be the tomb of ancient Emperor Nintoku. With the surrounding moats included, the tomb is about 800 meters long and 600 meters wide, making it not only Japan's largest grave, but also one of the world's largest. Less than a kilometer away lies the Emperor Richu Kofun, the third largest tomb in Japan.
Kofun tombs are large mounds of earth. Originally kept relatively free of vegetation, today most of them are covered by trees. Many of the larger tombs, including the ones of Emperor Nintoku and Emperor Richu, are of a keyhole shape and surrounded by moats. The tombs are generally not open to the public, and the larger ones are difficult to fully appreciate unless viewed from a high vantage point. The free observation deck on the 21st floor of the Sakai City Hall allows for such views from about a kilometer away.
A large number of medium and small sized kofun tombs are spread across the spacious and pleasant Daisen Park which stretches between the kofun of Emperor Nintoku and Emperor Richu. The park also offers a few attractions that are not directly related to the tombs:
Sakai City Museum
Hours: 9:30 to 17:15 (entry until 16:30) Closed: No closing days Admission: 200 yen Typical visit duration: 45 minutes English: Moderate
The Sakai City Museum documents the history of the port town of Sakai through the ages, beginning with a detailed account of aspects of the kofun tombs including artifacts excavated from inside the burial sites.
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (9:30 to 16:30 from November to March) Closed: Mondays (or next day if Mon is a public holiday), New Year holidays Admission: 200 yen Typical visit duration: 30-40 minutes
Visitors can enjoy strolling around this scenic traditional Japanese garden. In addition to various water features and a picturesque bridge, there is also a rest house and multiple seating areas to take in the views.
Hours: 10:00 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00) Closed: Mondays (or next day if Mon is a public holiday), New Year holidays Admission: 200 yen Typical visit duration: 45 minutes English: Moderate
This well-done museum documents the evolution of bicycles with various historical models on show to an exhibition of present technology. Sakai has long been a center of bicycle component manufacturing and hosts the headquarters of the global industry leader Shimano.
The Mozu Tombs and the surrounding attractions are most easily accessed from Mozu Station along the JR Hanwa Line. From Tennoji, take a rapid train to Sakaishi (7 minutes) and transfer to a local train to Mozu (4 minutes). The one way journey costs 220 yen and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass and other JR passes. Daisen Park is a short walk from the station.
The other station of interest is Sakaihigashi Station along the Nankai Koya Line which lies next to the Sakai City Hall and a 20-30 minute walk from Daisen Park. The one way ride from Namba Station to Sakaihigashi takes about 15 minutes and costs 260 yen by express trains. It is not covered by JR passes.