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Unearthed History

What is Jomon?

In this feature, we will introduce to you 9 different special locations across Yamanashi and Nagano Prefectures (just west of Tokyo) where you can view and even experience the wonder of life as some of Japan’s earliest Hunter-gathers.






The Shakado Museum of Jomon Culture is a great introduction to the astonishing relics left by some of Japan’s earliest hunter-gatherers, the Jomon people. This particular museum is famous for housing an extremely large collection of over 1,000 clay figurine pieces—all found 1 meter beneath the land that is now the Chuo Expressway Also don’t forget to check out their clay figurine venuses Shakka-chan and Shakko-chan, as well as the gorgeous “Water, patterned earthen vessel” all on display on the second floor!

Getting there: 764, Senbeiji, Ichinomiya-cho, Fuefuki City, Yamanashi

15 minutes on foot from the "Shakado Iriguchi (entrance)" bus stop.readmore









Archeological artifacts from Japan’s paleolithic age from about 30,000 years ago to modern-day! But of course one of its finest collections is its extensive Dogū and Doki pieces which even include some very cool ancient Jomon earrings! After walking through the various periods of Japanese history displayed in the museum your trip doesn’t end there. In fact, this Museum was built on the grounds of a large archeological site that you are free to view so don’t forget to visit the large key-hole shaped Kofun tombs nearby!

Getting there: 923 Shimosonecho, Kofu, Yamanashi 400-1508

                      1 minute on foot from the "Yamanashi-kenritsu-hakubutsukan” bus stop.readmore









For those who love a more interactive type of learning experience, here at the Shiseki Umenoki Iseki Park located in Hokuto-city, you get to see what it's like to enter inside a Jomon era pit house. These model pit houses were built right above where the actual ruins were and created after many many years of research into what these pit houses would look like. Also every fall they have a Jomon cooking event so if you want a real taste of history this is the place for you!

*English speaking guide available

Getting there: 6315 Asao Akenocho, Hokuto, Yamanashi 408-0200

20 min taxi ride from JR CHUO LINE Anayama Sta.    







About 2,000 years after the Umeno Iseki ruins, the Kinsei ruins were established as a living area for Jomonians. These ‘newer’ style Jomon homes even have walls which is a rare feat for Jomon. But that’s not all that is unique about this site, it is also considered to be grounds for some sort of Jomon burial festival as well! Just a brief drive away you can also visit the Hokuto Koko Museum with its own impressive collection of artifacts from the site!

Getting there: 2414 Oizumicho Yato, Hokuto, Yamanashi 409-1502

                     6min walk from Hokuto-city bus stop ‘JA Oizumi ten mae’







One unique thing about the Minami Alps Furusato Bunka Denshoukan is that unlike sites such as Shakado, a great many of the relics they found were in mainly one piece! One of their most prized pieces (and also the inspiration for their adorable mascot character) happens to be one of the biggest pieces in Japan and has traveled to museums across the world, showing the brilliance of Jomon culture from everywhere to Italy, Malaysia, France and more!

Getting there: 2727 Yagoshima Minami-Alps, Yamanashi 400-0205

Take the bus bound for Ashiyasu from the Kofu Sta. Yamanashi Kotsu bus terminal and get off at the "Yagoshima" bus stop. Walk 10mins.







Neighboring our Yamanashi Prefecture, the Prefecture of Nagano is another place bustling with tourists who have come to enjoy the current Jomon Era boom. The Chino City Togariishi Jomon Archaeological Museum has one of the largest middle Jomon era collections which is quite impressive, but that’s not this museum’s only feat. In fact, 6 of their Jomon artifacts and their associated pieces have been designated as National Treasures by the Japan Agency of Cultural affairs!

*English information available

Getting there: 4734-132 Toyohira, Chino, Nagano 391-0213 Take the bus bound for Hiromi from the Chino train Sta. to Togariishi Jomon Koukokan mae bus stop.





The Obsidian Museum of Archaeology a.k.a the Kokuyoseki Taiken Museum, located in Nagano’s town of Nagawa is another great place for those who love hands-on-history. Here you can learn about the Obsidian rocks (perhaps the most important resource for Jomonians) and even make your own little Jomon style artifacts during one of their many experiences that make this museum so special!

Getting there: 3670-3 Daimon, Nagawa, Chiisagata-gun, Nagano 386-0601 40 minutes by car from JR Chino Station






This museum near the border of Nagano and Yamanashi Prefectures invites Museum goers to abandon everything they think they know about Jomon at the door. The Idojiri Archeaological Museum offers unique interpretations of Jomon history and even connect it with the mythological folktales that appear in the Kojiki, the nations oldest literary work and the first written account of Japan’s origin story. For history and Jomon fanatics who are eager to learn a different side of things, and about the unique Idojiri area culture we definitely recommend you to stop on by! Plus for those who want to learn about the later periods of Japanese history we recommend checking out their separate annex that even features the art of Hayao Miyazaki from when held a lecture here 20 years ago.

Getting there: 7053 Sakai, Fujimi, Suwa District, Nagano 399-0101 10 minute walk from Shinano-Sakai Sta.


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Published on

  • February 15, 2021


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