Cover Graphics

Gaki-zoshi (Scroll of the Hungry Ghosts),
old gravesites at Hinoshima-magari in Nagasaki Prefecture, Haiko-gorin gravestones

The corpse was interred, a mound built and a memorial was erected on top. In the Middle Ages this kind of burial was restricted to relatively few people. When people died their bodies were abandoned on mountains or in rivers and sometimes they were even left to the dogs or simply left to rot away. It is fitting that "gaki", hungry ghosts, should live in such a gruesome world, and "Gaki-zoshi" (Scroll of the Hungry Ghosts) depicts such a scene with the utmost realism. In the Middle Ages five-tiered monuments and Hokyo-into towers were built as memorials for Buddhist priests and those in the warrior class. These stone monuments are found in regions all over Japan, and many five-tiered towers and Hokyo-into towers have been excavated from a group of old gravesites at Hinoshima-magari in the Goto Islands in the west of Kyushu. The building of stone monuments for commoners as well became widespread in the Edo Era. However, this custom came to the Kinki Region earlier, as there are indications that it started there during the Sengoku Period (1482-1558). One form of stone monument is that of the Haiko-gorin gravestone, which depicts a fiver-tiered tower in relief, and examples of these dating from the Tenmon Period (1532-55) can be seen in the graveyard of Nakayama Nebutsu-ji Temple in Tenri City, Nara Prefecture.

Jiro Muraki
Archaeology Department, National Museum of Japanese History


Opening essay

Special Feature:History's First Steps - Graves Social history told by graves (Taichiro Shiraishi)

A Witness to History

A photographic introduction to items from the collection
The world of dotaku (ceremonial bronze bells)
(Hideji Harunari)

Special Feature:History's First Steps - Graves

Communal graveyards in Yamato (Taichiro Shiraishi)
Graveyards and the defilement of death - Folk customs are silhouettes of history (Takanori Shintani)
Changes in stone monuments (Jiro Muraki)
Festive shrine rituals and avoidance of the defilement of death - Miyaza elders and their death (Mayumi Sekizawa)


Medieval graveyards on shoen boundaries (Kazuki Takahashi)
Castles and graves - the Katsuyama-date in Kaminokuni, Hokkaido (Yoshihiro Senda)

The 16th Rekihaku Research Update

42nd Rekihaku Forum
The Graves of Kings and their Followers
(Shinsaku Sugiyama)

Introducing our Researchers - Part 10

Looking at Humans the Same Way We Look at Ants and Crabs
- From Biology to Ecological Anthropology
(Satoko Yoshimura)

Book Review

Kim Jongdae's "Tokebi - A Study of Korean Specters" (translated by Nam Kun-wu)
Reviewed by Toru Tsunemitsu

Book Introductions by the Author

"The Rise and Fall of the Sengoku Navy" by Takehisa Udagawa
"The Jomon Controversy" by Shin'ichiro Fujio

Exhibition Review

Special Exhibition - Exhibition Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Opening of the Museum
"Documenting Disaster: Natural Disasters in Japanese History 1703-2003
- Earthquakes, Eruptions, and Tsunamis - Response and Recovery"
What are "Claims"?
Reviewed by Shinji Miyamoto

Rekihaku Chat (readers' page) November 20, 2003

Rekihaku News