A journey to meet Empress Saimei

Japan HeritageMausoleum of Princess Kibihime

This is believed to be the tomb of Princess Kibihime, the mother of Empress Saimei. Kibihime was a granddaughter of Emperor Kinmei and the grandmother of Emperors Tenchi and Tenmu. According to the Nihon Shoki chronicles, Kibihime was buried at Mayumino-oka hill. But the Engishiki (an ancient book of national laws and customs) states that her grave is located within Emperor Kinmei’s mausoleum. It is therefore assumed that this is her final resting place. At this mausoleum, you can also see four stone statues whose shapes have led them to be called Saru-ishi (monkey stones). These were dug out of a nearby rice paddy. Empress Saimei ordered the construction of numerous stone works in Asuka. The purpose of many of them remains unclear, but it’s fun to speculate about what the ancient people of Asuka were up to.


Hirata, Asuka-mura
8 min. walk from Kintetsu Asuka Station