Outline of Exhibition

The Beginning of the Jomon Culture -What Took Place 15,000 Years Ago?-
Period Oct 14 (Wed),2009 - Jan 24 (Sun), 2010
Venue Special Exhibition Galleries,
National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions Adults: ¥830 (¥560)
Senior high school & college students: ¥450 (¥250)
* Fees in parentheses apply to groups of 20 or more
* Admission to permanent collection included
* Free admission for elementary & junior high school students
* Free admission for senior high school students every Saturday
Hours 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
(no entrance after 4:00 p.m.)
Closed Oct 19 (Mon), 26 (Mon), Nov 2 (Mon), 9 (Mon), 16 (Mon), 24 (Tue), 30 (Mon) , Dec 7 (Mon), 14 (Mon), 21 (Mon)
Dec 27 (Sat), 2009- Jan 4 (Mon), 2010,
Jan 12 (Tue), and 18 (Mon)
Sponsor National Museum of Japanese History

The Beginning of the Jomon Culture

The recent archaeological discoveries in East Asia and the progress of studies using the dating method, etc. have significantly changed the position of the Japanese Jomon Culture.

The invention of pottery, which was a major event in human history, took place in the East Asian region in the late Glacial Period. With this main subject, the exhibition is gathering together the historical materials of the Incipient Jomon Period of the Japanese Archipelago from the south to the north. The materials and panels are displayed to show the origin of pottery, the variation in structure and appearance of stone tool, the pottery production restored by the chronological positioning using the latest dating method and the fired paste analysis, as well as natural remains and their relationship with flora and fauna analyzed scientifically.

The exhibition indicates that based on the dating, the beginning of the Jomon ware dates back to the late Glacial Period 16,000 to 15,000 years ago and the pottery from the Japanese Archipelago is the earliest in the world at present excluding uncertain cases. It also reviews the relationship between the East Asian and the Japanese Jomon pottery by indicating that the pottery vessels of about 15,000 years ago have been discovered in coastal regions throughout Siberia. At the same time, the exhibition shows that the appearances are different between the pottery of the Incipient Jomon Period from Tohoku through Hokuriku and Kanto, and those from South Korea and South Kyushu through Tokai. This indicates that there are two traditions different between north and south in the Jomon ware of the Japanese Archipelago. The exhibition furthermore shows the transition to the Initial Jomon Culture leading to the peak of the Jomon Culture.

Exhibition Lineup

I. Prologue: The Beginning of the Jomon Culture

II. Natural Environment

III. Emergence of Pottery

IV. The Spread of the Jomon Culture

V. Scientific Approaches

VI. Regional Jomon Culture of the Japanese Archipelago

VII. Epilogue: The Beginning of the Jomon Culture

Restored Incipient Jomon man   Restored image of Maeda cultivated field  site in Tokyo
Restored Incipient Jomon man
(Supervised by Hisao Baba, illustrated by Reiko Ishii)
The bone structure is restored based on the human bones excavated from Myoonji cave. The man is holding a stone spear, bow and arrow, a partially polished stone axe, and an pottery vessel that were the principal implements in the Incipient Jomon Period. The man is wearing clothes made of fur from Japanese deer because the climate was still cold in the late Glacial Period.
 
Restored image of Maeda cultivated field site in Tokyo
(Supervised by Yuichiro Kudo and Mitsuo Suzuki, illustrated by Reiko Ishii)
The Maeda cultivated field site in Tokyo is one of the few archaeological sites from which living at the beginning of the Jomon Period can be restored. From the site, two housing remains were found, and salmonid fish bones were excavated in large quantities. A stone chipping floor for stone spears was also found, and an pottery vessel was also excavated although it was the only one. Thus the scenery of catching salmon swimming up the River Akigawa is restored.
Odai Yamamoto I site in Aomori Prefecture: The earliest pottery in the Japanese Archipelago   Ridge-patterned pottery excavated from Ishigoya cave
Odai Yamamoto I site in Aomori Prefecture: The earliest pottery in the Japanese Archipelago
Sotogahama-machi School Board (Photo: Yasuhiro Taniguchi)
The dating has revealed that the earliest pottery in the Japanese Archipelago found in Odai Yamamoto I site in Aomori Prefecture dates back about 16,000 to 15,500 years. This pottery is unpatterned and had carbide adhering to the surface.
 
Ridge-patterned pottery excavated from Ishigoya cave
Kokugakuin University Research Center for Traditional Culture
One example of ridge-patterned pottery that can be restored to the original state was excavated from Ishigoya cave. The nearly pointed and round bottom and the transverse ridge pattern are the basic form of ridge-patterned pottery. Although there are some minor differences, this pottery culture is common in the Japanese Archipelago from Hokkaido through Tanegashima. (The display will be temporary.)

Note: Please note that items in the exhibition are subject to change.