Shiba Maruyama Kofun

The mysterious identity of modern Tokyo's ancient tomb

By Sleiman Azizi    - 2 min read

Japan's oldest public park, Shiba Park has certainly been around. Located in Tokyo's famous Shiba area, Shiba Park was established in 1873 and is currently in its fifth era of modern Imperial rule. It has also survived two world wars, civil wars and the ever undying brightness of Japan's kawaii cute culture.

But while the local salaried men and women head to the park for a brief respite from their corporate duties, spare a thought to Tokyo's missing royalty once entombed beneath its soil. The little hill covered with trees right by the Prince Park Tower Tokyo building is actually the tomb of ancient Japanese royalty. The problem is, nobody knows which royalty.

Bird's eye view of Shiba Park. The tomb is located beneath the little grove to the left of Prince Park Tower on the right. (Photo: Matt Kieffer)
Bird's eye view of Shiba Park. The tomb is located beneath the little grove to the left of Prince Park Tower on the right. (Photo: Matt Kieffer)

Spread throughout Japan are some 161,000 or so megalithic tombs built for well, important people. These kofun, as they are called in Japanese, are huge structures of earth and stone that cover the final resting places of their occupiers below. Perhaps the most famous occupant of a Japanese kofun is Princess Himiko, the semi-legendary shamaness-queen of the 2nd-3rd century.

As for the Shiba Maruyama Kofun, the best information available suggests that it was built in the 5th century but other than that, nothing else is known. Long relieved of its contents and even original shape, the 110-metre keyhole shaped Shiba Maruyama Kofun in Shiba Park is a monument to a time now lost.

Signage pointing out the tomb's existence. (Photo: Reggaeman)
Signage pointing out the tomb's existence. (Photo: Reggaeman)

Shiba Park is a beautiful place to relax, take in some exercise or lunch. There are numerous historical attractions reminding the visitor of the depth of Japan's past but perhaps none greater than Shiba Maruyama Kofun, the tomb of Tokyo's missing royalty.

Getting there

Take the Mita Subway Line to Shiba Koen Station, the Toei Oedo Subway Line to Akanebashi Station, the Toei Asakusa Line to Daimon Station or the JR Yamanote Line to Hamamatsucho Station. Shiba Park is a short stroll from any of these stations.

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Sleiman Azizi

Sleiman Azizi @sleiman.azizi

A Japanese Permanent Resident, I drool over proper soba and sushi while Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me.With over 200 published articles on Japan as well as 5 English language books written in a traditional Japanese style, I also happen enjoy writing. Funny that...I'm also the Regional Partner for Tokyo, Japan's never ending capital, so if you've anything to say about Tokyo - or Japan in general - don't be shy and contact with me via sleiman.azizi@japantravel.com

Join the discussion

Scott Brause 4 months ago
Thanks for the report, Sleiman. I shall visit Shiba Maruyama Kofun to pay tribute in the near future! (Though where on earth - or I should say in the earth - is Queen Himiko's grave?)
Sleiman Azizi Author 4 months ago
Her tomb is supposedly in Nara....
Lynda Hogan 4 months ago
Unscathed from cuteness - now that is a rare treat! I love that there is always something new to learn and discover in culture and history rich Japan.
Sleiman Azizi Author 4 months ago
It can almost be overwhelming at times just how much depth there is. But I think that adds to the appeal. It's somehow accessible to most everyone.
Elizabeth S 4 months ago
There is so much history under your feet in Tokyo.

Shiba Park also has the Grant Pine, planted by Ulysses S. Grant.
Sleiman Azizi Author 4 months ago
Monuments and reminders dot the city.