Chikatsu-Asuka, an area in the southern part of Osaka Prefecture, has one of the best collections of tumuli in Japan. There are over 200 mounds including four imperial tombs, the site of the tomb of Prince Shotoku and the tomb of Ono-no-Imoko. It was an important place at the start of Japanese history.

This is a museum for exhibiting and studying the kofun culture that existed during Japan’s early history. In contrast to many past museums, the Chikatsu Asuka Musuem is not just a facility for exhibiting unearthed objects. We strive to exhibit information and provide accessibility to the entire group of tumuli scattered throughout this area. For this reason, the building has been constructed in a hill-like shape so it is possible to see the entire excavated area from the top of the museum. Due to its basin location, the building features an elevated base to help provide a view of the surrounding area.

Nearby are a grove of plum trees, a pond, and around this are hiking paths that cover the entire hilly area. This museum is surrounded by a rich natural environment. In early spring, the plum blossoms are beautiful, in early summer there is the new greenery, and in autumn the foliage paints the area in vivid colors. We strive to use the museum not only for historic studies, but as a center of outdoor activity and a gather place for regional events. The roof is a stepped plaza and has been used for drama and music festivals, various performances, and lectures.

Once inside the building, a darker tomb atmosphere transports visitors back in time.

The unearthed objects and artifacts are exhibited in the same way that they were found in the tumuli. People experience the sensation of entering a kofun tomb. A visit to the building represents a journey to the under-world of ancient times.

This is a place where the Japanese encounter their own history. In a way, the Chikatsu Asuka Museum is a tumulus built in modern times dedicated to the Japanese love of nature.

Written by: Tadao Ando

An Overview of the Building

basement first
roof section


  1. Entrance
  2. Lobby
  3. Exhibition Room
  4. Museum Library, Information Service Desk
  5. Snack Bar
  6. Reception Desk, Museum Shop
    Obtain an Auto-Guide system here. Tune to Channel 2 for English broadcast.
  7. Court
  8. Open area, Rokutanji Tower
  9. Auxiliary Exhibition Room
  10. Foyer, Hi-Definition TV
  11. Hall
An Overview of the Building
designed 1989. 12 to 1991 ,04
constructed 1991.12 to 1993.11
structure 2 stories and 1 basement
steel frame reinforced concrete structure
building area 3,407.84m2
total floor area 5,925.20m2
function museum

The Need to Build a Museum

The Need to Build a Museum
Feb. 1989 What decisively differentiates

the Osaka area from Tokyo is the relative importance of the early periods of history following the advent of agriculture some 2000 years ago.

Forexample, as is universally taught in Japan and widely known elsewhere, the mausoleums of the 5th century emperors Nintoku and Ojin, located in the Osaka suburbs, rank among the largest burial mounds in the world, and epitomize the most advanced knowledge and technology of their time.

Those and other giant tumuli in the area projected a majestic identity on an international scale, as attested by the sections of contemporary Chinese chronicles on the "five kings of Wa", and early Japanese history would be largely blank without mention of the monumental structures.

Yet there is virtually no connection between those outstanding ancient monuments and the present-day identity of Osaka, or its city planning.

Their status today may fairly be summarized as useless possessions.

The main reason for this state of affairs is the insufficient availability of information on cultural assets. In today's information-intensive society, Osaka Prefecture needs new systems for the maintenance and adequate dissemination of information on its history and cultural heritage.

In particular, there is a pressing need to build an historical museum focused on Osaka's ancient cultural heritage, both to promote public understanding and study and to serve as a center for information and research.

The area known as Chikatsu Asuka, located in southeastern Osaka Prefecture, holds a number of impressive historical and cultural assets from the Kofun period (from the 4th to 6th centuries).

There is the Shinagadani valley, or "valley of the mausoleums", with the tumuli of four emperors and Prince Shotoku.

There are the richly endowed tumuli of government officials, showing fresh continental influence with their sarcophagus-style stone chambers.

There is a variety of noble-family tomb designs including keyhole-shaped burial mounds, keyhole burial mounds with quadrangular rear-mound, and gourd-shapes burial mound, as well as large square burial mounds, and the Ichisuka tumulus cluster of smaller burial mounds of powerful families.

There are 8th century tombs containing imperial metal belt fittings and epitaphs, splendid temples representative of the Ritsuryo aristo- bureaucracy, the remains of ancient government offices and the Takenouchi of official road, and other items too numerous to note here.

A prominent overall feature of the cultural heritage of Chikatsu Asuka is the wealth of influences from overseas.

Much ancient interchange lies sealed within the confines of tumuli and temples.

Many cultural elements and persons newly arrived from China and the Korean peninsula were involved in the recasting of the Japanese people by the ruling elite from the 7th century onward.

The processes by which the state and the system of the government were forged have been passed down to us mainly in the material forms of the Chikatsu Asuka monuments.

That epochal transformation permeates the cultural heritage of the historical world that is Chikatsu Asuka.

Luckily, many cultural assets enshrining immense amounts of data from ancient times have remained in relatively good condition, and moreover they lie in attractive sites with abundant natural greenery.

In many ways the entire area is an historical museum, evocative of a period novel, shot through with the atmosphere of the Kofun period.

There is no place more suitable for experiential learning about history and culture, or for continuing education based on local resources.

The building of a museum in this area of immense historical promise, and its utilization, together with the already opened the Fudoki-No- Oka Historical Park, to promote regional and city planning which takes full account of the local wealth of history and culture, will do much to invigorate the Minami Kawachi district, to enhance the cultural environment of metropolitan Osaka, and to create a comfortable venue for everyone's edification and enjoyment.