The tomb is thought to have been built at some time between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century. It was accidentally discovered by a local farmer in the 1960s.
The mound of the tomb was built of alternating layers of clay and sand. It is about 16 metres (52 ft) in diameter and 5 metres (16 ft) high. Excavation yielded a burial chamber with painted fresco wall paintings of courtiers in Goguryeo-style garb. The paintings are in full color with red, blue, gold, and silver foil representing four male followers and four serving maidens together with the Azure Dragon, Black Tortoise, White Tiger, and Vermilion Bird groups of stars. The paintings are designated a National Treasure.
For whom the tomb was built is unknown, but the decorations suggest it is for a member of the Japanese royal family or a high-ranking nobleman. Candidates include:
- Prince Osakabe (d. 705), a son of Emperor Tenmu
- Prince Yuge (d. 699), also a son of Emperor Tenmu
- Prince Takechi (c. 654 – 696), also a son of Emperor Temmu, general of Jinshin War, Daijō Daijin
- Isonokami Ason Maro (640–717), a descendant of Mononobe clan and in charge of Fujiwara-kyō after the capital was moved to Heijō-kyō
- Kudara no Konikishi Zenkō (617–700), a son of the last king of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.
The Cultural Affairs Agency of Japan is considering taking apart the stone chamber and reassembling it elsewhere to prevent further deterioration to its wall paintings. A painting called Asuka Bijin, or "beautiful women", is one of the murals in the tomb facing deterioration. The unusual preservation method is being considered because the tomb's current situation makes it impossible to prevent further damage and stop the spread of mold.
In 2012, similar mural was found in a tomb in Mongolia. The round mound, thought to be built by Göktürks in the 7th century, was excavated by Mongolian and Kazakh researchers. The mural depicts Azure Dragon and White Tiger with a procession of Chinese and Sogdian, and other Caucasoid traders.
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