◆Jomon Culture in the east ande west - Distinguishing character, char, and value of Jomon sites
A stretch of Jomon Culture
I’m going to talk about the distinguishing character, charm, and value of Jomon sites in comparison with Jomon Culture in eastern and western Japan, today.
Jomon Culture is a very unique culture. It was closed in a negative way, and blossomed on Japanese Islands in a good sense. It is almost certain that its biggest reason was the sea surrounds the country.
Pusan in Korean Peninsula is 48 kilometer distant from Japan’s Tsushima Islands, Nagasaki Prefecture, which is the distance we can see the vague outline of islands each other on a fine day. But Jomon Culture didn’t almost get to Korean Peninsula while the Neolithic Culture on the Peninsula didn’t give any influence on Tsushima Islands. Fragments of potteries and stone tools on the other party have been unearthed and people came and went, but the number of men’s traffic was very few. The reason is considered that the language is different, and both cultures didn’t give any influence on the other side.
The northernmost limit of Jomon Culture is Soya Strait, Hokkaido Island, and on 40 kilometer far-away Sakhalin Island fragments of Jomon potteries have been unearthed, suggesting people made interchange, and we can know Jomon People didn’t settle down in the island in the ancient times. Regarding the Kuril Islands, Jomon sites exist until Iturup Island, but on 41 kilometer northern Urup Island they haven’t been discovered at all.
Regarding Japan’s southwestern islands, Jomon Culture got to Kume Island, but didn’t reach any other islands including Miyako, Yaeyama, Ishigaki, Iriomote, and Yonakuni Islands. Kume Island is located as far as 110 kilometer from Miyako Island and inhabitants don’t see the other island.
Regarding Izu Islands, Jomon sites have been confirmed until Hachijojima Island, but we haven’t yet discovered any Jomon sites on Aogashima Island only 20 kilometer away from Hachijojima Island. As Ogasawara islands, which were admitted World Natural Heritage Entry, are located in more southern area, they aren’t under the influence of Jomon Culture. Instead, stone axes and bulky potteries, which are supposed to have been under the influence of Micronesian Culture, have been unearthed.
Comparison between eastern and western Jomon sites
According to the statistics of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, we have currently as many as 460,000 historical sites all over the country. Among them eastern Japan accounts for 48% and western Japan 52%, almost half and half. Talking of Jomon sites, however, eastern Japan accounts for as many as 80% and western Japan about 20%. Eastern Japan clearly has much more number of Jomon sites. Additionally the scale of Jomon sites in eastern Japan is overwhelmingly larger than that in western Japan. It is considered that the population in eastern Japan in Jomon Times was more than ten times of that in western Japan. It’s a matter of course that the quantity of unearthed remains is more in eastern Japan than western Japan. All data clearly show that Jomon Culture in Japan thrived mainly in eastern area.
But, lots of Jomon sites have been discovered in western Japan, too, especially on Kyushu Island. Goryo Shell-mound in Kumamoto Prefecture is a large scale shell-mound in the country. The shell-mound was formed in very late Jomon Times and designated as a national historical site. Eastern Japan has overwhelmingly much more shell-mounds than western Japan. Eastern Japan surpasses western Japan in the number of shell-mound. Nevertheless, there are some significant historical sites even in western Japan.
(Translated by Junzo Miyamoto)