Regional Origins of Toraijin in Japan

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Sword with ring pommel, decorated with silver inlay and gold leaf
(Nationally designated important cultural property)

Mid-Kofun period (5th century); excavated at Miyayama Tomb;
held in the collection of Himeji City Board of Education; 86.8 cm long


This photo shows the sword’s decorative handle, called a ring pommel. It is made of iron, which has been lined with silver, and has S-shaped patterns on its outer surface and gold leaf along its edges. Inside the ring, there is a bud-shaped knob that has an embossed fish-scale design, and concave parts which are decorated with gold leaf.

Bronze iron (Cultural property designated by Kashiwara City)

Mid-Kofun period (5th century); excavated at Takaidayama Tomb;
held in the collection of Kashiwara Municipal History Museum; 46.5 cm long


At first sight, this artifact looks like a frying pan. However, it is actually an ancient smoothing iron. People made a fire in the pan-shaped part and pressed its heated base on a cloth to iron out wrinkles. An artifact almost identical to this was unearthed at the Royal Tomb of King Muryeong of Baekje (Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do, Korea), indicating that Baekje and ancient Japan were closely associated.

Horn-shaped cups

A. The Three Kingdoms period of Korea (from the 5th century to the 6th century); excavated on the Korean Peninsula; held in the collection of Tenri University Sankokan Museum; approx. 20 cm long
B. Late Kofun period (6th century); excavated at the Akanegawa-Kanegasaki Kiln site; held in the collection of Akashi City Board of Education; approx. 25 cm in long

Horn-shaped cups designed like bulls’ horns, have been found in Europe, West Asia, Central Asia and Northeast Asia. On the Korean Peninsula, many similar artifacts have been unearthed at the Silla site. Exhibit A was excavated on the Korean Peninsula, which is the easternmost part of the Eurasian Continent. It has a pointed end just like a horn, whereas exhibit B’s end is flat. All Sue-ware horn-shaped cups that were made in Japan have flat ends, indicating that the pointed ends were replaced by flat ends when the technique for making horn-shaped cups in the Korean Peninsula was passed on to the Japanese archipelago.

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