In 2018, more than 350,000 people visited the Tokyo National Museum’s special exhibition “Jomon-The Beat of 10,000 Years of Beauty”. This is good news for the Snow Country Tourism Zone which treasures YUKIGUNI culture that has continued since the Jomon period.
Some may see this as a temporary trend, but we do not think so. A culture that has lasted for 10,000 years, unparalleled in world history. Living in harmony with nature. Villages arranged in a circle so that they can see each other, which develops the connections of people.
Plenty of time because we are buried in snow in winter. Something that has been left behind in modern times is there. Some-thing fundamental. Jomon asks us “What is richness?”
Do you live with creativity?
They could have used pottery without any patterns, but the Jomon people created complicated patterns on their pottery. We cannot produce Angin (a knitted fabric) with the precise patterns of the Jomon period. Are these things indicative of a life which also had leisure time? In the Snow Country, which is buried in snow for half of the year, there was a lot of time.
Have you ever looked closely at flame-shaped earthenware? Swirl patterns, rippled modelling. As the name suggests, they were thought to have been shaped like a flame. However, another theory has emerged. Perhaps it was modeled after a ripple. We can only try to imagine now what the pattern meant. What do you picture when you see this pattern?
Thinking time buried in snow
A pure white world where nature and animals are buried in snow. During winter, how did the Jomon people spend time in such a world? Some scholars claim that the relaxed winter period enjoyed by the Jomon people created the patterns on their flame-shaped earthenware. We want to regain such time to think even for a moment.
Who did you hold hands with recently?
A form of village where houses face each other. It is a form of village where, if you leave the house, you can look over all the houses and communicate with others. There is also a square in the centre, and people gathered for rituals and talks. A world buried in snow for half of the year. In each house, family members surrounded a hearth and talked with each other during the long winter. Hunting and overcoming a dangerous environment, people had to collaborate with each other in order to survive.
A village form where multiple houses are arranged in a circle. The doorways of the house face each other and surround the central square. If you were living in the Jomon period, you would probably leave your home and communicate “Face to Face” with your neighbours. This was part of everyday life in the Jomon period. Can you remember your neighbour’s face clearly?
There was a “Fukushikiro hearth” inside the pit dwelling. Families at the time made a fire within it and surrounded it. The hearth decorated with stones came about approximately 4500 years ago. For the Jomon people, it was the centre of their community; they used it as a heater, cooked with it, and had conversations surrounding the fire. It connected people around a single flame. Perhaps the Japanese Irori hearth can be said to have the same characteristics.
Have you ever felt the smell of the wind?
Jomon is a “forest culture” and it was “the era of coexistence with nature”. There is a one-year cycle adapted to the environment, and people were living according to the cycle. For example, the custom of starting to prepare for the next winter starting early with the snow melting in spring still remains alive in YUKIGUNI with customs such as the drying of the royal fern (an edible plant indigenous to YUKIGUNI).
The same applies to winter preparations such as other preserved foods and firewood. While we are trying to create a sustainable society with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals today, the Jomon period is a rare era that lasted for about 10,000 years. Maybe modern people can learn how to live with and face nature from the Jomon people.
There was a one-year cycle centered on winter in the Jomon period.
Gathering in spring and autumn, fishing in summer, and hunting in winter. Adapt to nature and work with a vision. This tradition remains in the knowledge around the preservation of food in YUKIGUNI. The fact that we dry royal fern with the arrival of spring and prepare for winter is another example.
SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are development goals to be achieved by 2030, adopted at the United Nations Summit. The Snow Country Tourism Zone believes that ways to achieving this goal can be found in the Jomon culture. The Jomon people had the wisdom to make effective use of limited resources without trying to remould nature. Perhaps the key to keeping us alive on earth is hidden in their lifestyle.