◆Moderns should study Jomon Culture

Jomon Satoyama(A village with forest and cultivated fields harmonious with natural features)

 

 Jomon People didn't begin agriculture yet and had been getting along with surrounding nature harmoniously in coexistence. The coexistence and harmony with natural environment was the basic living way of people in Jomon Times.
 The analysis of the soils at Sannai-Maruyama Site showed they contained a lot of chestnuts' pollen, which let us know chestnut trees forest existed there. In other words, we knew the fact that people selected better chestnuts among wild ones and grew them. They brought up and controlled chestnuts as well as lacquer trees which I told you at Jomon Seminar held last year.
 It is considered in addition that there was Jomon Satoyama, people of which collected nuts, mountainous wild vegetables, mushrooms and gathered materials of fire-woods and instruments (woods, barks, reeds and so on). Now is the time when Satoyama has become a world-known word and academic societies and international conferences are held about it. Many people in the world pay attention to the sustainable and ecological life in Asian Satoyama, and its original base existed in Jomon Times. I think this will be a key word to appeal Jomon including Sannai-Maruyama Site to the world.

 

Foods acquiring method
 A horse chestnut is a nut which Jomon People developed numerous processing ways in the end. As a horse chestnut has a very strong poison called "Saponin" and can't be eaten as it is, it is necessary for people to dip it in the water. At Sannai-Maruyama Site there is a dale, which is a river-head, in Chikano District, Aomori City, where a museum is currently located. We now know that people set up a bleaching stand to get rid of harshness in Jomon Times.
 Earthen goods imitating mushrooms have been unearthed at historic sites in Tohoku District. It has been supposed so far that people made them by imitating narcotic poisonous mushrooms to become trance state in the light of ethnology, but according to mushrooms specialists, their shape is like esculent mushrooms. It seems that Jomon People probably ate mushrooms.
 It seems that people also ate insects. Do you know Japanese continued to eat insects? The Agricultural and Commercial Ministry investigated insects eating situation in the country in 1919 against a coming war and found the fact that people ordinarily ate locusts, bees' larvae, "zazamushi", crickets, Japanese water beetles, water beetles and so on.

 

Preserving, processing, and cooking foods
 It's become gradually known that people smoked fishes and meats in low temperature by making use of heat and smoke of a hearth in the floor and that people made smoking facilities by digging in the ground. In other words, we can say it isn't true that people ate plenty of foods when they could acquire lots and they endured when they couldn't. But the fact is that they firmly made up the system to preserve, process, and store foods.
 When the sea-water goes out in the major tide from spring to early summer, we can pick up a lot of shell-fishes. People seethed in the sea-water to shuck them and dried them in the sun to make dried shell-fishes with salt which could be preserved for a long time. It seems people themselves ate them and at the same time they carried them to mountainous area. There was an interchange network between seaside and mountainous area.
 People also made salt in Jomon Times. People boiled sea-water dry in earthenware to make salt from about 3,000 years ago at Satohama Shell-mound on Miyako-jimaIsland. The salt couldn't be detected in the shell-mound but a lot of the earthenware used in the salt-making process was unearthed in Sendai Bay. The fragments of the same-shaped earthenware were unearthed in Yoshioka, Miyagi Prefecture and Murayama, Yamagata Prefecture. That endorsed the existence of interchange network between the sea and mountain area.
 People boiled foods in earthenware or ate raw foods. The origin of Japanese meal like "Ichiju-Issai (A meal consisting of a kind of soup and a plate of fish on vegetables, beside rice)" existed all in Jomon Times, I think.

 

Instruments and materials
 Jomon People ingeniously used natural stuffs. The typical one is Jomon earthenware using clay. The origin is supposed 15,000 years ago and it is the oldest in the world at this moment. The important point is that a quantity of earthenware was made in Japan. Any other countries haven't produced it more than Japan. Later people bakes clay in higher temperature by using a kiln and glazed it in the advanced process. Though the making method changed, the tradition of unglazed pottery continued from Jomon Times still remains in Japan.
 At Sannai-Maruyama Site people not only collected chestnuts but also made use of woods of chestnut trees. It takes three years for a chestnut tree to bear fruit. We can see the long-term strategy of Jomon People to plant trees, considering various situations in the future more than their personal life. It takes at least six or seven years for a lacquer tree to run sap.
 In case of chestnut trees Jomon People totally made use of them, the first chestnuts, the second woods, and the third fire-woods. Apart from the living way to consider just cost calculation which is in fashion today, they had a thought to use chestnut trees thoroughly and considerately, even if something wouldn't pay economically. I wonder if this is a thought which Japanese have had until recently.

 

Realities and pit(dugout)-dwellings
 Many people may think that pit-dwellings existed only in Jomon Times. Almost all houses here in Tohoku District were pit-dwellings until Heian Period and afterwards pit-dwellings were consecutively used as storehouses and workshops of farmers.
 Talking about pit-dwellings, you may imagine the dwellings with thatched roofs at Toro Site, Shizuoka Prefecture, but in reality almost all pit-dwellings weren't thatched. Should they have existed, the roofs were piled up with soils. At Goshono Site four burned pit-dwellings were discovered. As charred pillars, roofs materials, and the roof soils were unearthed, we can know the real conditions. Experiment results showed us that it's cool in summer and warm in winter with the roof piled up with soils.
 Some documents about "Tsuchigumo-Densetsu (Literally a ground-spider legend)" are found in Chronicles of Japan and some topography. I consider that this is because the inhabitants entering a pit-dwelling with soil roof looked as if they were ground-spiders when war lords tried to conquer the local area.

 

Faith, religious rites, and memorial service
 Human bones of thirteen bodies together with shells and fish bones have been discovered at Satohama Shell-mound. They weren't abandoned, but buried. It is because people thought that gods dwell in everything with life. Gods dwell in animals and vegetables which people could eat to live and go to the other world and then come back to this world. After human beings die, they will come back to this world in other forms such as the royal ferns or brackens according to a divine revelation. Jomon People had such a thought of rotation of life and death, Buddhism's "Rinne (Samsara=doctrine of transmigration of souls)" from a long time ago. A shell-mound is not only a dumping ground but also a sacred place to send the souls of the dead to gods. That's why the dead bodies together with marine products and broken instruments were buried.
 As Jomon People thought that life dwelled in everything, they used everything considerately. I think such a spirit still now remains in us in the shape of a needle-mass and so on.

 

High economic growth and changing life culture
 Japanese Islands are now under reconstruction, which is qualitatively different from what has continued since Jomon Times, and industrial structure has changed on a large scale. In everyday life electricity is being used for household manufactured goods and people live in up-to-date residences or reinforced concrete mansions, changing dwelling situation. Various things including daily life, dietary life, and occupation for living have dramatically changed. As a result tradition and Japan's time-honored culture which have been fostered since Jomon Times have been changing.
 I'm not going to discriminate it between right and wrong but I think it has brought about many kinds of strains, which is the real picture of today's Japan. Now is the time for us to come to a stop and think over how to live on according to natural features, which has been inherited for a long time.
 I'm studying various things regarding Jomon, feeling we should hold fast to the tradition since Jomon Times and we, as experienced human beings, should connect the past and the future and we should also open our mouth exactly about such a thing.


(Summary)
(Trnslated by Junzo Miyamoto)