Asia,  Destinations,  Japan,  Travel Diary

Exploring the Mozu Tombs in Japan

The Mozu Tombs in Japan are a group of mounds just south of Osaka, about 45 minutes away by train. I took a day trip down there the last time I was in Japan and explored a small part of the Mozu area.

They aren’t typically part of the standard Osaka sightseeing itinerary, but if you’re interested in ancient history and/or UNESCO World Heritage Sites, then you should definitely add the Mozu Tombs to your to-see list.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I get a small percentage of that at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

Mozu Tombs Basic Info

The Mozu Tombs are a megalithic tomb mounds located in Sakai, about 30 minutes from Osaka.

This kind of tomb was super popular between the 3rd and 6th centuries, and over 20,000 tumuli were built in Japan at that time. The biggest tombs are an unusual keyhole shape and surrounded by moats and secondary mounds. Nowadays there’s very few remaining, with only 44 in the Mozu cluster itself and only 19 mounds designated as national historic sites.

The Mozu Tombs and the Furuichi Tombs clusters were both added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2019. Read more about the history of the Mozu Tombs on Wikipedia, the UNESCO website or the official English tourism website.

Getting to the Mozu Tombs by Public Transit

From Osaka: Take the Hanwa Line to Mozu Station for the most direct access.

You could also take the Osaka Loop in the Airport direction, stay on when it changes to the Hanwa Line at Tennoji Station, and then get off at Mikunigaoka Station, which is located at the top of the Daisen-ryo Kofun.

Mozu Tombs Cost

They’re all free to see, and the visitor center is also free. If you want to visit the museum, it’s ¥200 for an entrance ticket.

Personal Experience at the Mozu Tombs

I did a half-day tour of the tombs, self-guided DIY style. First, I took the train down to Mozu station (didn’t see a stamp and there wasn’t staff at the desk to ask, unfortunately). At the station there’s a free sightseeing map and a placard showing where the major sites are in the nearby area. I headed towards the Mozu Tombs Visitor Center as it’s right nearby the station, stopping to look at a tomb on the way.

Osamezuka Kofun

Cost: Free!

Location: 2 Chome-149 Mozusekiuncho, Sakai Ward, Sakai, Osaka 590-0802, Japan — between Mozu Station and the visitor center.

This was my first hint that the tombs weren’t going to be as WOW as I was expecting. They are indeed mounds, and they’re interesting in theory, but…they honestly just look like hills with trees on them. This tomb is small, but you can get pretty close to it. Here’s the info placard:

Mozu Mounded Tombs Visitor Center

Cost: Free!

Location: 2 Chome-160 Mozusekiuncho, Sakai Ward, Sakai, Osaka 590-0802, Japan

They have an informative video showing the history of the tombs and how they were built, playing roughly every hour, plus a small display of the tombs, their building process, etc. It was a good video, well-shot and with English subtitles, on a big curved screen.

Mozu Mounded Tombs Visitor Center video room screen
Mozu Mounded Tombs Visitor Center video room

Maybe the best thing is the attached gift shop, though, as it has some AMAZING Mozu Tomb-themed souvenirs! I picked up some adorable stickers and a few postcards, but check out everything else they had:

I LOVE the washi tape selection! If you’re looking for unique Japanese stationery goods, definitely visit the museum gift shops. They really go all out!

Be sure to stop and get the special souvenir stamp, located near the entrance. It’s part of the World Cultural Heritage stamp series you can find at Japanese heritage sites, and they even have matching paper to stamp it on:

To learn more about Japan’s souvenir stamps for tourists, check out this post here.

Mounded Tomb Models (仁徳陵・賠塚の復元模型)

Cost: Free!

Location: Plus code: HF6P+58 Sakai, Osaka, Japan

I found this model of the tombs and the Haniwa (funerary statues) surrounding them on the way to the museum from the station area. It’s a good overview of what the tombs look like from above, and I LOVE the funky statues.

Magodayuyama Kofun

Cost: Free!

Location: 2 Chome Mozusekiuncho, Sakai Ward, Sakai, Osaka 590-0802, Japan — in Daisen Park in front of Sakai City Museum

This is a small tomb located inside the Park that the museum is in, and you’ll see it if you comb from Mozu Station direction. It’s pretty far away and honestly just looks like a hill surrounded by water…a common theme with the Mozu Tombs, unfortunately. I DID see some cranes in the moat, though! And the park surrounding the tomb is a great place to have a picnic.

Sakai City Museum

Cost: ¥200

Location: Japan, 〒590-0802 Osaka, Sakai, Sakai Ward, Mozusekiuncho, 2 Chome, 大仙公園内 (Plus code: HF5M+HP Sakai, Osaka, Japan)

A fairly good museum with a combo of Tomb history and local city history. The staff were very enthusiastic to get me into the theater to watch the intro video, and then when I went the wrong way afterwards and tried to go to the gift shop, they pointed me back into the exhibit area.

My favorite part of the museum was seeing the recreations and/or bits of things they found in the tombs, including more of the haniwa statues.

The gift shop had some higher-end souvenirs, such as jewelry and silks scarves, but I was most interested in the free souvenir rubber stamp I found around the corner right before the exit:

Sakai City museum stamp

The museum also has a free sitting area (don’t need a ticket) where you can relax and look at the Peace Tower (堺市平和塔) across the park.

Sakai Shin-an (Tea House)

Sakai Shin-an Tea House

Cost: ¥500

Location: 2 Chome Mozusekiuncho, Sakai Ward, Sakai, Osaka 590-0802, Japan — next to the Sakai City Museum

This was recommended by the museum as a low-stress version of a traditional tea ceremony, and I guess if it was busier then it definitely would’ve been. They have small stools to sit on, and the tables are set up more like a cafe. Unfortunately, I was the only visitor there and the staff just made the tea in the back and brought it out. The green tea was SUPER bitter, so I definitely needed the sugar cookies to cut the taste a bit. Love the tomb-shaped cups, and the staff were nice enough to take my photo for me!

Daisen-ryo Kofun (Tomb of Emperor Nintoku)

Cost: Free!

Location: 1079-1 Daisencho, Sakai Ward, Sakai, Osaka 590-0035, Japan (across the street from Daisen Park)

This is the biggest tomb and the one that gets photographed the most, and it DOES look very impressive from the satellite photos.

That said, you really can’t see much from the street level view. It just looks like a big wooded area surrounded by a moat. You can’t get close to the gates and you can’t go onto the mound itself. The walking tour suggests doing a loop around the perimeter, but unless you want extra exercise then that seems a bit pointless.

Daisen-ryo Kofun (Tomb of Emperor Nintoku)
As close as you can get to Daisen-ryo Kofun

At this point I realized ALL the tombs were going to look like hills with trees on them, so I decided to call it a day and headed back to Osaka.

Is it worth visiting the Mozu Tombs?

Yes, if you like ancient world history and/or want to visit a lot of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can stick to doing just a half-day tour if you’re really short on time, and go see the three biggest sites and the museum or visitor center.

However! If you’re going to South Korea, they have their own mounded tombs in Gyeongju. They’re not keyhole-shaped, but you can actually go into one and the rest are maintained to look like hills with little-to-no trees on them. If you only have time to see one mounded tomb site, the Gyeongju ones are a bit more visually interesting.

Final Thoughts

I liked visiting the Mozu Tombs area, and I particularly liked the visitor center. I do wish it was possible to actually go onto or into the tombs themselves, and not just see them from afar, but it is what it is.

Previous Entry

One month outside of Osaka travel budget

Asia 2024 Travel Diaries

Journal Date: May 15, 2024

All Entries

Next Entry

From Osaka to Singapore with Scoot Airlines

Save to Pinterest

Explore More

More UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited around the world:

Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

Leave a Reply