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Hakodate Jomon Culture Center

The Hakodate Jomon Culture Centre whispers tales of a bygone era. This museum isn't merely a repository of artefacts; it's a portal to the Jomon Period (14,000 - 300 BCE), one of the earliest and most enduring hunter-gatherer societies in Japan. Beyond its impressive collections and interactive exhibits, the centre fosters a deeper understanding of the Jomon way of life, their ingenuity, and their enduring legacy.

The Jomon Period is a significant chapter in the prehistoric history of Japan, spanning roughly from around 14,000 BCE to 300 BCE. Named after the distinctive cord-marked pottery that characterizes this era, "Jomon" translates to "cord-marked" in Japanese. This period represents a time of considerable cultural and technological development in the Japanese archipelago, setting the stage for the formation of early Japanese societies.

One of the defining features of the Jomon Period is the Jomon pottery itself. These ceramics are known for their unique, coiled construction, where ropes or cords were used to shape and decorate the vessels. The patterns on the pottery vary widely, ranging from simple impressions to intricate designs. This diverse array of pottery suggests a rich cultural tapestry and provides valuable insights into the artistic and technological capabilities of the Jomon people.

The Jomon people were primarily hunter-gatherers, relying on the abundant natural resources of Japan's diverse landscapes. The archaeological evidence suggests a varied diet that included fish, shellfish, deer, boar, and plants. The Jomon communities were nomadic, moving in search of seasonal resources. Despite their mobile lifestyle, the Jomon people demonstrated an early understanding of pottery and its various uses, such as cooking, storage, and possibly ritualistic purposes.

The Jomon Period saw the emergence of a complex societal structure, with evidence of both egalitarian and hierarchical social arrangements. Archaeological sites reveal a range of dwellings, from simple pit houses to larger, more elaborate structures. Some sites also contain communal pit buildings, hinting at the presence of shared spaces for community activities. The exact nature of Jomon social organization remains a subject of scholarly debate, but it is clear that these communities were not isolated; they engaged in trade and cultural exchanges with neighbouring regions.

In addition to pottery, the Jomon people left behind an array of artefacts that reflect their evolving material culture. Stone tools, bone implements, and clay figurines have been unearthed at various Jomon sites. These artefacts provide valuable insights into the Jomon people's daily lives, technological advancements, and possibly their spiritual beliefs. The Jomon culture exhibited a deep connection with nature, as evidenced by the numerous clay figurines depicting animals and anthropomorphic figures.

A Treasure Trove of Jomon Artifacts

Step inside the Hakodate Jomon Culture Centre and prepare to be transported back in time. Four dedicated exhibition rooms showcase over 1,200 pieces unearthed from archaeological sites in the Hakodate region. Each artefact tells a story, whispering of the lives, challenges, and triumphs of the Jomon people.

Exhibition Room 1: Foundations of Life in the Jomon Period

This room lays the foundation for your journey, introducing you to the Jomon environment and its diverse resources. Witness the impressive array of stone tools, crafted with skill to hunt, fish, and gather sustenance. Observe the evolution of Jomon pottery, from early pit-fired vessels to intricate designs and sophisticated forms. These everyday objects reveal the ingenuity and artistry of the Jomon people.

Exhibition Room 2: Daily Life and Society

Delve deeper into the daily lives of the Jomon people in this room. Explore reconstructed pit dwellings and imagine the warmth of communal fires. Examine ornaments and personal objects like beads and combs, hinting at their sense of aesthetics and self-expression. Learn about their sophisticated burial practices, reflecting their beliefs about life and death.

Exhibition Room 3: Jomon Culture in Hokkaido

This room focuses on the unique characteristics of Jomon life in Hokkaido, shaped by its harsh yet bountiful environment. Discover the unique pottery styles like Goryokaku and Kameda, reflecting local influences and adaptations. Uncover the distinctive fishing techniques employed to harvest the rich marine resources. Witness the evolution of settlements, from temporary camps to more permanent villages.

Exhibition Room 4: The Legacy of the Jomon

The final room explores the enduring impact of the Jomon people on later Japanese cultures. Analyze the similarities and differences between Jomon and later Yayoi cultures, highlighting the continuity and evolution of traditions. Explore the influence of Jomon aesthetics on contemporary art and design, showcasing the timeless appeal of their creations.

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