On July 2, 2017 I will be leading Kōgakkan University 皇學館大学 students and faculty on a historical tour of sites along the “Old Road of Kumano” 熊野古道. The “Ochiai Tomb Mounds” 落合古墳群 are one of the first locations that we will pass.
I’ve driven around the area, but as far as I can tell, there are no signs or other indications of exactly where the excavation site was (assuming it isn’t buried under the highway). The photo below is the approximate location on Google Maps.
What is It?
The “Ochiai Tomb Mounds” were discovered during archaeological excavations at the site of the proposed expressway going from Seiwa-Taki Interchange to Ise-Nishi. Some scholars have argued that because there is nothing from the early tomb era 古墳時代 (3rd to 6th centuries), the region lagged behind other places in Japan. However, the authors of the excavation report (see the link below) suggest that another way to look at this data is to speculate that because earlier sites have been found in surrounding regions, we can eventually expect to find similar ones in this region as well. For example, just across the Miyagawa River, at another excavation connected with the construction of the highway, the “Kayama Site” has been dated to the fifth century. At this point, no large tombs have been found along the river.