Outlines of Kii-fudoki-no-oka

General Information


Kii-fuodki-no-oka Museum
Kii-fudoki-no-oka Museum in early April

The museum entrance name plate in English says, "Wakayama Prefectural Kii-fudoki-no-oka Museum of Archaeology and Folklore." These words seem to describe the facilities aptly.

The details are as follows:

  • "Kii" is a traditional place name for the present Wakayama area since the Nara Period.
  • "Fudoki", which literally means "wind, soil, record," was a name for official books describing regional climate, culture, and others. The Fudoki was compiled in the Nara Period.
  • The last part of the name "no-oka" means "hill of" in Japanese.
  • As the result, the total name Kii-fudoki-no-oka roughly means "Hill of Fudoki (a book of regional history and culture) in Ki (present Wakayama). "

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a pit dwelling
A reconstructed pit dwelling

Kii-fudoki-no-oka was founded in order to preserve and take advantage of Iwase-senzuka Kofun Cluster in 1971.

In 1960s, during the early high economic growth period after World War II, even important historical sites were being destroyed due to road building or house development. The national government employed new measures to conserve them. Opening museums of history named "Fudoki-no-oka" was one of them. Kii-fudoki-no-oka is one of 16 Fudoki-no-oka museums in Japan.


The museum is composed of an exhibition room (2F), a space for activities (1F), four relocated folk houses, a reconstructed pit dwelling, a botanical garden, walking courses through the park area of Iwase-senzuka, and others.

The museum building itself is one of National Registered Tangible Cultural Properties of Japan.

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Haniwa Exhibition

Haniwa in Japan

The Japanese word "haniwa" originally meant "clay cylinder" or "circle of clay." Haniwa are large hollow earthenware objects. Those unglazed cylinders, pots, and figures were arranged on top of kofun in the Kofun found.

I have learned about haniwa as follows:

  • Haniwa appeared early in the Kofun period.
  • The first typical shapes were cylinder-shaped ones and pot-shaped ones.
  • And then, house-shaped ones, tool-shaped ones and animal(bird)-shaped ones appeared in the 4th century.
  • After that, person-shaped ones were created in the 5th century.

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Haniwa Exhibition of Kii-fuodki-no-oka Museum

From 2003 through 2005, numerous fragments of haniwa were unearthed at Dainichi-yama No. 35. The excavated haniwa were restored and many of them were discovered to be unique to Iwase-senzuka. Those highly distinctive ones are designated as National Important Cultural Assets of Japan. Dainichi-yama No. 35 is thought to have been constructed in the first half of the 6th century.

Photo Collection: Unique Haniwa from Dainichi-yama No. 35.

Haniwa of a man who has two faces (left) and haniwa of a bird spreading its wings (right).

a double-faced man
a bird spreading its wings

Haniwa of a quiver (left) and haniwa of a sumo wrestler (right)

a quiver
a sumo wrestler

Haniwa of a man wearing a flat hat with two legs and a circular pattern (called "so-kyaku-rin-ji-mon" (left) and haniwa of a a warrior wearing a helmet (right).

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a man wearing a flat hat
a warrior

Two different types of cylindrical haniwa (left) and haniwa of a maiden in the service of a Shinto shrine (right).

cylindrical haniwa
a maiden

House-shaped haniwa (left) and horse-shaped haniwa (right)

a house-shaped haniwa
a horse-shaped haniwa

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Historical Relics

Photo Collection: Relics Unearthed in Wakayama Prefecture

The Old Stone Age

Tooth of a Nauman's elephant (left) and flint arrowheads (right)

a tooth of a Nauman's elephant
fling arrowheads

The Jomon Period

Jomon pottery (left and right))

a Jomon pot
Jomon pots

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The Yayoi Period

Yayoi pottery (left) and Dotaku bronze bells (right)

Yayoi pots
dotaku bronze bells

The Kofun Period

large-sized unglazed sue earthen pots (left) and steamers called "koshiki"

sue pots
a koshiki steamer

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Folk Articles

A collection of folk articles is also displayed in the exhibition room. The exhibits are often replaced one after another.

Masks used in Festivals

A mask called "Tengu" depicting a mountain spirit (left) and a mask called "Shishi-gashira" meaning "lion's head" for a Lion Dance (right).

Yayoi pots
dotaku bronze bells

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Restored Old Folk Houses

The four wooden houses were originally situated in different places in Wakayama Prefecture. They were relocated to Kii-fudoki-no-oka when the museum was founded in 1971. The four wooden residences were constructed in the Edo Period.

Former Residence of the Yanagawa Family

The Yanagawa was a merchant family who produced and sold lacquerware in present Kainan City in the Edo Period. This house was built in 1807.

the Yanagawa family's house (1)
the Yanagawa family's house (2)

Former Resindece of the Taniyama Family

The Taniyama was engaged in fishery and shipping maritime trade. This house originally located in Shimotsu, present Kainan City. It was constructed in 1749.

the Taniyama family's house (1)
the Taniyama family's house (2)

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Former Resindece of the Tanimura Family

The Tanimura family participated in growing rice and others in the Edo Period. The style of the house proves that it was built around the late 18th century. The house was in a mountainous area in the upper reaches of the Aridagawa River.

the Tanimura family's house (1)
the Tanimura family's house (2)

Former Resinence of the Kobayakawa Family

The Kobayakawa family was took part in agriculture in a mountainous area of the upper stream of the Hidakagawa River. It is thought that the house was built around the late 18th century.

the Kobayakawa family's house (1)
the Kobayakawa family's house (2)

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