The Three Stelae of Kōzuke

Of the eighteen ancient, still-standing stelae of seventh- to eleventh-century Japan, the Three Cherished Stelae of Ancient Kozuke, eastern Japan, are the oldest.

They are the Yamanoue Stela (681 A.D.), Tago Stela (711), and Kanaizawa Stela (726). The morphologies of the stelae suggest that the Korean immigrants that settled in Kozuke Province assisted in their designs, and the inscriptions on the stelae were written by local people far away from the capital of Japan. Indeed, the inscription on the Yamanoue Stela is the oldest example of writing in Chinese characters according to Japanese grammar. Since the eighteenth century, the inscription on the Tago Stela has been a model of calligraphy in China. The three are also important sources of information about cultural interactions in East Asia.

The contents of the three vividly illustrate that a political system modeled after Chinese empires and the Buddhist religion originating in India were not only introduced to Japan, located at the far eastern edge of Eurasia, but also accepted locally in the eastern periphery of Japan.

In sum, the historical, cultural, social, and political importance of the three stelae is invaluable and should be recognized as a part of the Memory of the World.


The Three Stelae of Kōzuke

Takasaki city office

TEL: 027-321-1292


35-1 Takamatsu-cho, Takasaki-shi,
Gunma-ken, 370-8501 Japan