Travel Jomon-style

Travel Jomon-style meant going on foot. Jomon hunters often went on foot to temporary sites within a average 2 kilometer radius of their villages to hunt for wild boar or to fish. Many Jomon people also migrated on foot seasonally from the mountain base camps to lowland estuary or coastal sites.  

Watercraft or shipping was however an important means of transportation for the Jomon people. Rafts made of wood or bamboo were probably common forms of transportation.

Remains of many excavated dugout canoes (called logboats), have been found from Early Jomon to Final Jomon sites, 46 of these were from Uenohara’s Early Jomon settlement alone.

The oldest dugout canoe ever found was from Torihama shellmound in Fukui prefecture. It was 6 meters long and 60 cm wide. It was made by using stone adzes or axes to half-split the trunk of a Japanese cedar (cryptomeria japonica) tree which was then hollowed out by fire.  In the final stage of making the canoe, the surface of the canoe was carefully polished.

A blunt-prowed dugout was found at the Kamo site in Chiba prefecture, together with 6 small paddles and 2 larger ones. It measured 5 meters long, and could have carried bulky heavy cargo goods like obsidian, chert or asphalt over long distances. Such dugouts were thought to have been used for deepsea fishing.

At the Uranyu Early Jomon site in Kyoto prefecture, a very large dugout that was 1 meter wide and by estimation 10 meters long was recovered. Paddles are sometimes recovered from excavation sites as well. Other than the Japanese cedar tree, wood of the kaya, mukunoki, inugaya, kusunoki, Japanese nutmeg and camphor trees were also used for building canoes.

Did the Jomon people ride animals?

Archaeologists have found 532 sites with the earliest horse bones dating to the Late Jomon period. These were ancestors of the Kiso wild horse indigenous to Japan, named after the area through which the Kiso River runs, from Nagano prefecture through Gifu and into Ise Bay west of Nagoya city in Aichi prefecture. It is not known whether these horses served as pack animals during the Jomon period but it is thought they may have been domesticated by the time of the Yayoi period as horse fossils showed they had become larger by then.  The much larger horses used for riding and warfare were not imported from Korea until the middle of the 5th century A.D.

One response to “Travel Jomon-style

  1. Fantastic information on Japan. I’m deeply interested in any information in your files, regarding possible Transpacific contacts between Jomon mariners and the cultures of Meso and South America. Writing a paper on the issue. May i hear from you, please?

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