Japan Museums: Izumo Yayoinomori Museum
Izumo Yayoi-no-mori Museum 出雲弥生の森博物館
Izumo Yayoi-no-mori Museum is located in the hills to the south of central Izumo city, across the road from the Nishitani Tumuli Park to which it is connected.
Izumo Yayoi-no-mori Museum opened in 2010 primarily to display artifacts that had been unearthed from the ancient burial mounds in the park. As well as displays of pottery, jewelry and other grave goods there are models of the interior of the tomb and of how it is believed the tombs were constructed.
The displays are good but there is no explanation in English. The Izumo Yayoi-no-mori Museum also has regular public lectures, mostly on the results of recent archaeological finds in the Izumo area of Shimane Prefecture as well as practical workshops for children. There are occasional special exhibits related to the lectures, as well.
Across the road is the Nishitani Tumuli Park, a cluster of third century mounded tombs from where much of the museum's exhibits were unearthed. Known as kofun in Japanese, these large mounded tombs found all over Japan marked the rise of powerful regional chieftains and kings and have given their name to a period of history. The Kofun Period runs from approximately the middle of the third century to the middle of the sixth century.
The uniquely Japanese 'keyhole' shaped tombs, included the massive ones in Osaka believed to be the tombs of Emperor Nintoku and Ojin, lead historians to believe that the Kofun Period marked the beginnings of what became the first Japanese state, however these tombs in Izumo are unlike any others in Japan, being square with protruding corners.
It is therefore believed that this region of Japan maintained its independence from the central authority in the Nara region. The tombs have been renovated and one tomb has an opening into the central burial chamber.
Fine views over Izumo can be had from the park. Though hard to access by public transport, the Izumo Yayoi-no-mori Museum and park are well worth a visit for anyone interested in archeology and the Yayoi and Kofun periods of Japanese history.
Access - how to get to Izumo Yayoi-mo-mori Museum
Izumo Yayoi-mo-mori Museum is located 3 kilometers southeast of Izumo Station, the museum is a 20 minute walk from Otsumachi Station on the Ichibata Railway.
There is an infrequent bus from Izumo Station to Mitoya which stops near the Izumo Yayoi-mo-mori Museum. Ask at the Tourist Information Center in the station.
Entrance to the park and permanent exhibition is free, though there may be a charge for special exhibits.
Izumo Yayoi-mo-mori Museum is open from 9am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays, or the next day if Monday is a national holiday.
Izumo Yayoi-mo-mori Museum
Shimane Prefecture 693-0011
Tel: 0853 25 1841