Ways of the Jomon World

We know today that the Jomon society was a culturally rich and characteristics of their way of life, pottery, crafts and customs often differed from region to region. Watch this video for a peek at a reconstructed view of life during the Jomon period. 

Traditionally, the Jomon people have been characterized as an affluent forager culture. This was because it was commonly thought that the Jomon people were foragers who searched for food in the wild, living well off the land given the abundant fruit and nut of the forests and the rich seafood that was available from the coastal areas.

Recently however, some experts are drawing a rather different picture. They say that the Jomon society was made up of collectors, who settled in a residential base, from which they sent specially organized task groups or teams of people some distances away to various locations where food or other supplies like clay, various stones, asphalt and other raw materials could be found. 

Some researchers say the Jomon people were not much different from modern people who settle in the suburbs and then commute to the city for their jobs. The Jomon people in the same manner, say these experts, also commuted from their settled residential villages on a daily basis to various places where they carried out their different jobs like gathering plants and nuts, collecting raw materials such as clay, hunting and processing of animals or seafood tasks. These places would have been well known resources to them and their ancestors, and may have been protected territories that were purposefully visited over and over again. 

The Jomon people tended to send their hunting teams to base camps over distances of between 2-50 kilometers, either day trips or short trips to satellite base camps a distance away. At the Takase river site, the Jomon people collected shellfish from marshes just below their site or tidal flats a short walk away, and fished from the bay or seashore within a distance of 2-3 kilometers away. But Jomon gatherers of plant foods and nuts and acorns would have foraged for food much nearer to home from wooded areas within 2 kilometer radiuses of their settlements. 

In this way, the Jomon people were able to exploit more efficiently the limited resources that were available to them. Such Jomon collectors would have moved their residential bases only a few times a year.  

Let’s find out more about how the Jomon people hunted and the tools and technology they used, their relationship with animals, how they managed their plant foods, their settlements and architecture, how they organized their society, about their crafts and clothing, rituals and burial customs.

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