Nowadays, Japan is seen as a very peaceful place. After World War II, Japan’s military presence has waned, and they are focused more on creating friendships over war. But, this was not always the case. Most if you will know about the Samurai, and the countries militaristic past, but there are darker sides to this countries war stories than most know.
From 1592-1598, Japan attempted to invade and control all of East Asia. During this time, a lot of effort was put into the invasion of Korea, led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It had long been the tradition to collect the severed heads of those you felled in battles and take them home as war trophies. But, due to the distance, and the sheer number of killings that occurred at this time, many soldiers collected ears and noses instead.
These souvenirs of battle were then stored in brine and transported back to Japan to be placed in Mimizuka – literally; Mound of Ears. This mound still stands today, but serves as a memorial of the Korean soldiers killed, rather than a show of power. What will probably surprise you the most though, is the location of this hill of mutilation – right in the suburbs of Kyoto. In fact, its right next to a children’s play park.