Monday, November 7, 2011

A Walk in the Umami Hills Park

Umami Hills Park is located on the rolling hills stretching from Koryo Town of Kitakatsuragi County to Yamato Takada City in the southwest of the Nara Basin.  It is the second largest park next to the Nara Park in Nara Prefecture.  What is special about this park is there are  grassy hills of the burial mounds of the ancient times, mostly constructed in the 5th Century.  I love walking around the rolling hill paths through various blooms in season.

This park was made to preserve the Umami-kofun Cluster dotted in that area.  Tombs built for interring corpses are called "kofun", or ancient burial mounds.  They first appeared in the late 3rd Century, and impressive, grand mounds were made from about the 4th through 7th Centuries.  Earth was piled high, stone chambers were built, and in them were placed stone coffins and funerary objects with the dead.  In the late tumulus period, the grand scale kofun was surrounded by moats.

Burial mounds were popular before the entry of Buddhism, and then the practice of cremation got widespread.

Ipponmatsu-kofun burial mound is "zenpo-koen-fun", the tomb shaped like an old-fashioned keyhole when viewed from above.  It was used for the burials of the highest-ranking members of the ruling class.

The full length of Ipponmatsu-kofun is 130m, consisting of square front (width 80m) and round back  (diameter 80m).  

Nagareyama-kofun burial mound (5th century) is another keyhole-shaped mound and is thought to be the tomb of the couple of the man of power. The full length is 105 m with a square front and a round back.

It was partly broken by taking the ground out.  Since it was designated as a national historic site, it has been put into good condition.  During the excavation, two levels of “Haniwa” (clay image), “Fukiishi” (paved stones), and a passage with rows of “Haniwa” between the round part and the rectangular part, were discovered.

Throughout the park, the views are a constant source of surprise and delight.  At this season, I like the view of the mound with trees perched by  birds with the backdrop of blue sky and clouds.

Crows especially like the branches of the persimmon trees heavy with fruits.

I also like to see wild ducks which have already come back to the pond. The arrival of the birds tells the approaching of winter despite the serene warm days.   Excuse me, birds are too small to see.

At the edge of the pond, susuki, or Japanese pampas grass, and goldenrods bloom side by side.  Some people say goldenrods have invaded, others say susuki are so kind that they can coexist.  (Please have a visit to my last post Susuki at Mt. Katsuragi where I wrote what I love about susuki.)

The park consists of many gardens.  Flowers in bloom are always lovely to see.  Filipendula (シモツケソウ) is long-lasting from June to frost.

野紺菊(ノコンギク)? 関東嫁菜(カントウヨメナ)?
Wild mums bloom quietly.   I remembered traditional Japanese children's song "野菊/Wild Chrysanthemums". 


In this rose garden, roses have bloomed constantly since late May, even in the scorching heat of summer.  They have revived themselves from the fatigue of the summer heat and are enjoying the last bloom.

Salvia leucantha, or Amethyst sage
Salvia involucrata, Rose-leaf sage


changing colors of Japanese maple leaves

The Park is spectacular all the year round with various different blooms and colors. At the park museum people learn about the nature and the burial mounds of the Umami Hills.  And besides, parking and entrance to the  park is free of charge.  Many people in the neighborhood go on a walk every day to keep themselves fit, and I have stopped by from season to season when I pay a visit to the ancestor's grave nearby.  This park would be the perfect spot for recreation of all the family members.

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  1. Hello Yoko:
    This is all so very interesting. We know that we should find this place not only very beautiful but so intriguing with its many ancient burial grounds. Your photographs are excellent and have really given us a feeling for the park, its flora and birdlife. How wonderful to have all this so close by.

  2. こんばんわ!Stardust.
    少しづつ秋が深くなってきました。奈良公園に続いて2番目に広いとは、さぞ広い公園なのですね~~!写真をみてもその広々した様子が伝わってきます。10番目の景色は絵葉書みたいにきれいです!古墳のそばで静かに咲き乱れる花々、きれいな池の水に遊ぶ鳥達。木の実もあるし、生き物たちのパラダイスですね。Thank you for introducing that ancient tomb park.
    Have a great week ahead!

  3. There is something appealing about a burial site in a park-like setting where people full of life are free to explore. Many analogies can be made of the mound that is shaped like a keyhole. It makes me think of unlocking secrets to another realm where those who have left this earth pass through. Also, doesn’t music transcend everything? Even though I didn’t understand a word of the song, I was moved by its sweetness!

  4. Precioso parque, lo gocé junto a las aves... creo que son Mirlos... Bss

  5. a beautiful place. the burial mounds are interesting! but glad cremation became more popular! :)

  6. es un lugar hermoso ,muy bien cuidado ,a pesar de la finalidad del espacio,invita a visitarlo,la cremación es mas popular,pero es menos humano,no habría parques donde visitar a nuestros muertos,donde dejarías una flor?,puede que sea sentimentalismo lo mio
    muy hermoso post

  7. It is very interesting to discover that your culture built burial mounds as our distant ancestors the Celts did before the era of Christianity. Our country side is dotted with those and most of them are listed as well. I am amazed at the similitude despite the distance that separates our countries.
    The colours of Autumn are so flattering, and your park seems to be one of these places where you can find peace and quiet!

  8. Thank you for taking me on this spectacular and soothing walk! So dreamy.

  9. Haha! Crows are the same the world over - even downunder in Australia they can be found in fruit trees!!

    The mounds are fascinating - almost like smaller versions of the pyramids!!

  10. Umami Hills Park is lovely Yoko, that first photo with the bowing tree under a cloud filled sky is special! We have American Indian burial mounds near here, at Fort Ancient. One fathr away is shaped like a serpent...Serpent Mound! I enjoy seeing such sameness in our lives. When a young girl, I picked wild persimmons with my does NOT want to eat an unripe persimmon! We sometimes just tasted one for the fun it!

    All the flowers and fall foliage made beautiful photos, Yoko!

  11. Such incredible captures, Yoko! And what a gorgeous world you have. Thank you for such a wonderful tour, for the beautiful colors and flowers and places that make up your world! Hope you have a wonderful week!


  12. 去年、馬見丘陵で奈良フェアーが開催された時、初めて訪れました。どうしても自然の山のほうに目がむいてしまうので、こんな素晴らしい所がある事に気が付きませんでした。
    See you soon.

  13. wow wow wow! what can I say? everything seems to be attractive, so colorful! I wanna be there!

  14. Hello Yoko, The trees at the burial mounds are so fanciful. They look wispy and one looks as though it's bowing. Your flowers are still so beautiful in Nara - I like both dogwood and sage which I can grow at altitude. The roses are beautiful - I would love to walk there and smell their fall perfume.

  15. What a wonderful place to visit! Very interesting..reading about the burial mounds, and so beautifully maintained too. The trees and the blooms are gorgeous. Stunning images of the Japanese maple, the rose garden and the salvias. A treat to see your photos.

  16. Lovely park and interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

  17. ancient burial mounds---how interesting. and this park is so beautiful. marvelous post.

  18. Such a beautiful park, your pictures are lovely. The song is very beautiful too. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  19. Your posts make Japan look both comfortingly familiar and excitingly different at the same time. I have travelled and lived abroad in many contries and on many continents. I thought I would never feel the need for travel again. But you open my eyes to what I have been missing. Maybe one of these days....

  20. I did not know the park. Thank you for sharing these photos and informations. I've ever heard the lovely song but I had forgotten.
    The melodyline and lyric fit with these scenery well.

  21. A fascinating, beautiful park! Those burial mounds especially intrigue me! They almost look like small step pyramids! An intriguing post!

  22. What a beautiful park, it looks so immaculately cared for. The pond is also so picturesque. I like the song Wild Chrysanthemums. I wonder what it means.

  23. The ancient Buddhist places have always fascinated me. Seems magical, the green trees against the crystal blue skies... Especially loved the bent tree... Also the flowers, so colorful, spreads smiles and happiness... Wonderful post, Have a fabulous week ahead Yoko:)

  24. My beloved friend Yoko
    Many thanks for so beautiful photos of this nice place!!!
    There is so beauty, so calm, lovely!
    Best regards and a hug

  25. I'm sorry, i forgat to say haw beautiful is the song!!!
    Best regards

  26. I love the park of ancient burial mounts. Ours are earlier, neolithic rather than from recorded time, so they are not close together in one park and very much rougher and wilder than your beautiful park.

    As always, your pictures are delightful and show how beautiful Japan is.

  27. I don't know what the song says, but being a children's song I imagine is not a sad one. And still, despite of this, I feel sadness by listening to it and looking at your beautiful photos, Yoko.

    It brings back in my mind the song of Theru form Hayao Miyazaki's son "Tales from Earthsea"...
    There is such beauty and greatness in our world and yet we cause so much destruction around us!
    I think something must be done or happen to put an end to this madness...

    Warm wishes and happy days ahead, Yoko!


  28. You always delight me with your posts. I have a virtual opportunity to visit Japan, which is my real-life dream.

  29. Greetings, Yoko! I always enjoy very much your beautiful posts. Japan must be filled with gorgeous parks! I especially liked your information regarding burial mounds. One place we lived there were Native American burial mounds and one had to be careful not to disturb them. I also enjoyed seeing the many flora you photographed in the park.

    Thank you and I hope all is well with you and your family!

  30. What a phenomenal place to visit. The burial mounds are impressive. Love the stone steps going up towards the mound. Very different from the one we saw in Ireland. The water, the flowers, and the skies are gorgeous. What a fabulous day you had. Every photo is a real treat for the eyes. Thanks for a special post. genie

  31. Another delightful, fascinating journey into the history and beauty of your homeland. Thank you. We certainly have burial mounds here in England, many dating from around 4000 years ago. The song sounds oddly familiar to me too, though I don't know why.

  32. Every one of your posts launches me into a magical world of stunning beauty. Thank you.

  33. nice pictures with good description.

  34. I've never been there but it seems to be wide, cosy,warm place. Many flowers are blooming. You always know the proper places of all seasons to visit. I wonder if some seacrets are hidden inside this ancient tomb. So romantic but scary.

  35. Ah, persimmons!.. They sell Spanish persimmons in Finland that are not astringent. I remember that persimmons available in Russia were often astringent. What about the Japanese fruits?

    I love persimmons *_*

  36. Gorgeous photo's and a beautiful story.
    I wish you a great weekend.

  37. Hi Yoko
    I missed this interesting post. I didn't know about burial mounds in Japan.
    The park does look a lovely place to amble...and those huge much bigger than ours. I got cross with one last week and yelled at him. He was trying to pull a small possum out of the crown of a palm tree...and such a noise...a gruesome caw caw...

  38. Thank you, everyone, for the nice comment. I stop by this park at least four times a year when I pay a visit to the ancestors' grave nearby. I'll report how the park is from time to time.

  39. Yoko
    Such a nice park. 私は行きたい。


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