Showing posts with label kojindani. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kojindani. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hikawa Town

A walk to Kojindani 5053

Hikawa Town lies along the Hi River (Hikawa) in Izumo.

A walk to Kojindani 5153

The red iron sand of the Hi was one of the earliest sources of domestic iron production in Japan, and the site of the Yamata no Orochi legend, both associated strongly with Susano.

A walk to Kojindani 5090

The design of the manhole cover is of Dotaku, bronze bells from the late Yayoi Period (2nd and 3rd centuries) and reflect the large number of archeological sites associated with this ancient part of Japan.

Not much is known for sure about dotaku, though they were probably ritual objects used in early agricultural rites, and that they were introduced, like so much in early Japan, from Korea.

They have been excavated all over Japan, usually singly, but not far from Hikawa at Kamo Iwakura, a cache of 39 were discovered.


I took the photo ofthe manhole cover at the entrance to Kojindani, an archeological site even greater than Kamo Iwakura. Bronze ritual swords were also used in similar ways to dotaku, and all over Japan more than 300 of these swords had been excavated in total. At Kojindani in 1984, 358 swords were uncovered in one spot!!!

The importance of Izumo as an early political and cultural center of ancient Japan was underscored.

There is a small museum at Kojindani, but the 385 swords themselves are on display at the nearby Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo (inside)

One Day in Izumo9714

The Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo is a large and excellent museum. Unfortunately photography is not permitted in the galleries!

The main collection is composed of several themed galleries. The first looks at the history of the grand shrine of Izumo Taisha. In 2000, excavations at the shrine revealed the base of 3 huge pillars that confirmed the old records that said the shrine rose to a height of 50 metres, making it probably the tallest wooden building in Japan, if not the world. There are paintings, artifacts, and models showing how the shrine looked.

One Day in Izumo9701

The next section deals with the Izumo Fudoki. Fudoki were gazeteers compiled in the early 8th Century at the request of the fledgling central government in Nara who were solidifying their control over the Japanese islands. The Fudoki contained information on the geography, history, and folklore of each province. Only the Izumo Fudoki has remained intact until the present-day, which goes some way to explaining why Izumo's traditions remain strong.

The main section deals with bronze implements, swords, and other ceremonial and grave goods. The centrepiece is one huge display case covering an entire wall that contains 358 bronze swords and 358 replicas of how they appeared new, before spending 1500 years buried in Kojindani. Before their discovery in Kojindani, there had only been 350 such swords discovered in all of Japan, a strong indication of the importance of Izumo in ancient times before the rise of the Yamato. Also on display are dotaku (ceremonial bronze bells), an ancient Chinese mirror, believed to be one of Himiko's mirrors, and the remains of an iron sword engraved with kanji which is believed to be the earliest known example of writing in Japan.

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Other galleries feature exhibitions on more recent Shimane history, Iwami Ginzan, and Izumo's ancient myths.

Entrance to the museum is a mere 600yen, and if you are a foreigner there is a 50% discount. Free digital audio guides are available free and give details on some of the exhibits in seceral languages.

One of the best museums I've visited in Japan!

Outside the Museum