Hizusa Shrine is a historic shrine in Juzenji in Hino Town in the southeastern part of Shiga Prefecture. The shrine site is thought to have been the center of ancient Hizusa go (sub-county) in Gamo gun (county), which had been already settled in the Yayoi period (300 B.C.-300 A.D.).
The area including Hizusa was called Kuno in the old times and Hizusa Shrine was founded as the shrine housing Kuno Daimyojin, the guardian god of all the villages in Kuno area. In the Heian period (794-1192), the area became the manor of Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Mt. Hiei and co-enshrined the deity of Juzenjigu Shrine, one of the seven major shrines composing Hiyoshi Taisha.
Hizusa Shrine is famous for the Hokyointo stone pagoda erected in 1304 during the Kamakura period. It is 237 cm tall and stands with well-balanced shape. It has been preserved in a good state and beautifully carved lines as well as a pair of peacocks on the front base are still clearly seen. As one of the few excellent stone structures in Japan, it is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Chukin is a casting technique where molten metal is poured into a mold to make a vessel or utensil.
The chukin technique dates back a long way to the Yayoi period and features a variety of casting methods: 'sogata' ('so' technique), 'rogata' (lost wax technique), 'sunagata' (with sand) and 'yakigata' (by firing).
Depending on the shape and form of the object to be cast, the correct method should be used. The casting processes invcolve great experience and advanced skill.
Living National Treasure Osawa Komin was born in 1941 in Takaoka-shi, Toyama Prefecture, an area famous for copperware. Osawa is designated as a holder of the important intangible cultural property of metal casting. Known as the master of 'yakigata' casting, Osawa researched and came up with an original technique called 'casting basis technique', in which patterns are directly impressed on the surface of the vessel.
Despite the responsibility involved in inheriting such a traditional technique, Osawa ingeniously applies the technique to meet the expectations and standards of the modern world. He always keeps in mind his original intentions, while constantly moving forward and expressing fresh, natural sensibilities and sensations. Osawa is constantly challenging himself in the world of metal casting.
In Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, there is a museum dedicated to archaeological sites excavated in the vicinity. The museum itself is in Jomon Village at the foot of Mt Nishi, an area peppered with many ancient sites from the Jomon period.
Extensive research in Showa 52 led to the recognition of the site as an ancient area of habitation dating to the paleolithic Yayoi period. Inside the museum are clay figures and artifacts, while outside on Kodai-no-Oka (Hill of Antiquity) in the center of the village are gigantic clay figures. Visitors can also experience 'camping' inside a restored pit dwelling.
The resource center was built with the idea of preserving the surrounding mountains, rivers and hills, and is populated with many rare animals and plants. Camping in the autumn, when the leaves turn, is also popular.
The ruins of Nokata (Nokata Iseki), in Nishi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, show the remains of a village dating from the end of the Yayoi period to the Kofun period. The village was located on a long, fan-shaped plateau, which has an altitude of 17m to 20m, and measures 600m from north to south, and 200m east to west.
During the Yayoi period, the village was surrounded by two moats of different sizes. Within the village were smaller 'kango' (a small village surrounded by a moat), with the bigger kango having as many as 10 dwellings. Within the smaller kango were above-ground warehouses, which stored foods such as grain.
By the Kofun Period, there were more than 300 dwellings here. The burial area was very obviously situated away from the residential area. Many artefacts were excavated from the kango, including earthenware, stone implements and ironware, along with a variety of clam shells and bones from animals, birds, and fish, such as shark, bream and sea bass. Also unearthed were stone coffins filled with mirrors, balls, swords, glass balls and beads.
Nokata Iseki is a great place for people to learn about and envision the daily life of people in ancient Japan, and to capture the history and atmosphere of the past.
Kanenokuma ruin is a 'funbo-iseki' (tomb ruin) located in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture. It is sited on a 30m-high hill. So far, 348 'kamekanbo' (burials in large jars), 119 'dokobo' (burials directly into the ground) and 'mokanbo' (burials in wooden coffins), as well as 2 'sekikanbo' (burials in stone coffins) have been found here.
A huge amount of kamekanbo were children, indicating that this was the preferred form of burial for children. Many bodies reveal the custom of tooth extraction. Across 400 years, from about 200BC to 200AC, the Yayoi people used this burial site as a public graveyard. It can also be seen that it was a graveyard specifically for common Yayoi people, because no riches such as mirrors were found with the bodies, showing that no people of power were buried here.
Today, Kanenokuma ruin is an historic park. Many of the coffins, including dokobo and kamekanbo, are exhibited in a specially constructed building over the site and in the same condition where excavation has taken place. In 1972, Kanenokuma ruin was designated as an historic site of Japan.
The Kamoiwakura relics date to the Yayoi period and were found in 1996 near Kamo, in Ohara, Shimane Prefecture. At the site, 30m long rectangular tombs and 39 bronze bell-shaped vessels have beenfound, the greatest number of such vessels ever found in Japan. The vessels are decorated with pictures of deer and dragonflies, and were probably used in rites worshipping the god of the land that makes rice grow. The design of a stag horn illustrates the cycle of agriculture, which represents the spring growth, and fall harvests . The dragonfly is depicted because this insect eats vermin that eat the rice. Also, the impression of an ‘x’ made after casting is the same as the one found on Koujindani relics. Its meaning is undiscovered, yet it is believed that the two groups of relics used to be onegroup. Further study may change current views on the history of these relics. The Kamoiwakura site is important in the study of the history of the Izumo area and of the various rites in which these bronze vessels were used.
Yoshinogari Historical National Government Park was established to preserve and utilize one of Japan’s excellent cultural heritage, Yoshinogari Ruins, which are the largest ancient ruins in existence in Japan. The park is located on the hill that reaches out from the Sefuri mountain chains lying in Kanzaki City and Yoshinogari-machi in Kanzaki County, Saga Pref. Presently the park covers a total area of 54 hectares. A number of remains of the Yayoi period (3rd century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D.) were excavated from the site and restored to show visitors what the society of the time was like. The remains prove that the community organized at this site had already grown to become the nucleus of the region, from which it is assumed that this site might have been the Kingdom of Yamataikoku mentioned in Gishi-wajin-den (an ancient Chinese chronicle mentioning Japan) in Toiden of the Records of Three Kingdoms. However whether the Yamataikoku was located in this region or in Yamato region in Nara Prefecture has been disputed for a long time among historians. A lot of historic and academically precious materials have been excavated from the site, among which are the bronze swords and the glass cylindrical jewels that were designated as Important Cultural Properties. Those materials are displayed in Yoshinogari Historic Restoration Exhibition Hall. You can also enjoy walking through green forests within the park.
Matsurokan is a museum of history and folk culture in Nabatake area in Karatsu City, Saga Pref. Japan’s oldest ruins of rice paddies were excavated in this area. “Matsuro” is the word used in Gishi-wajin-den to refer to Matsuro area in the suburbs of Karatsu City. The feature of the museum is its exterior appearance looking like a stilt storehouse in the Yayoi period. The museum houses various materials and documents concerning the beginning and spreading of rice farming. The diorama shows the restored pit dwellings of Nabatake community in the Yayoi period. Other excavated items such as stone knives, charred rice, agricultural tools, and whale bones are also displayed in the permanent collection room. “Harvest Festival” is held every October to give thanks for rice harvest.