NIHONMONODiscovering Japan [Nihon] through authentic craftsmanship [Honmono]

Remnants of Jomon  Era ”Idojiri Archaeology Museum” ”Kayano City Togariishi Museum of Jomon Archaeology”

Remnants of Jomon Era
”Idojiri Archaeology Museum” ”Kayano City Togariishi Museum of Jomon Archaeology”

Jomon pottery loved by Taro Okamoto

Located in Suwa Gun is the Idojiri Ruins of the Jomon era, which is representative of all Japanese Jomon ruins. At Idojiri Archaeology Museum, excavated precious earthenware and stoneware from 5000 years ago are displayed. Not only that, they also introduce the world view and religious beliefs of that time that has become apparent from decoding motifs.
Seiji Higuchi, the director of the museum, showed us around. ”Shiso Ominagami” statue, which is said to be the model of Taro Okamoto’s famous ”Tower of the Sun”, and ”Suien Uzumaki Mon Fukabachi” which is designated as treasure of the prefecture, are must-see pieces. ”Suien Uzumaki Mon Fukabachi” became well-known after it was exhibited in art exhibitions in Paris and at Osaka Expo. ”Despite its ornate decoration, it has traces of burns inside, so we know it was used for cooking.”

Touching the ancient world

The top part of ”Shinzo Tsutsugata Doki” has fluid and dynamic decoration, which look like octopus legs. Nakata wondered, ”I guess if we were to express the modeling of Greek mythology the Japanese way, maybe it would look like this?” Higuchi replied, ”There were myths in the Jomon era, too. These types of earthenware express religious beliefs and the world view of the time.” Frogs and snakes were regarded as those sent from the moon, and like the moon which changes shapes, as well as disappearing only to reappear again, people wished for long life by eating food cooked in the earthenware with motifs of such moon-blessed animals. Back then, most people didn’t live longer than 40 years, and these outstanding earthenware were born from people’s thoughts and fear of death.

Universal beauty, Venus of Jomon Era

We then visited Togariishi Museum of Jomon Archaeology. It holds over 2000 pieces of precious items which were excavated from the Togariishi ruins and the foot of Yatsugatake. What draws attention are two bodies of national treasure clay figures. ”National Treasure Dogu Jomon No Venus (Venus of Jomon)” has a soft round shape like a heart. There are only 6 Jomon artworks that became National Treasures. Masafumi Moriya, the director of museum, told us ”The beauty of this artwork is universal and needs no explanation.” What caught Nakata’s eye was its sparkling brilliance. Moriya explained that mica was added to the clay. Another National Treasure, ”National Treasure Dogu Jomon No Kamen (Mask of Jomon)” was made 1000 years after the Venus. ”Its figure is round, but dignified,” Nakata commented. The form is more sophisticated and refined than the Venus, and it lets you realize the flow of time even in ancient times.


Idojiri Archeology Museum, Kayano City Togariishi Museum of Jomon Archaeology
7053 Sakai Fujimicho, Suwa Gun, Nagano Prefecture/ 4734-132 Toyohira, Kayano City, Nagano Prefecture