Recommended field trip to Lake Nojiri in Nagano

Visit the Nojiriko Museum or Lake Nojiri Naumann Elephant Museum where exhibits of Naumann Elephant fossils as well as of Big-horned deer and stone tool and bone tool artefacts are on display.

In 1946, a tusk of Palaeloxodon naumanni was discovered and excavations at the Tategahana site on the promontory on the western shore of Lake Nojiri turned up stone and bone implements, fossils of P. naumanni, deer and humans. Researchers believe the site was a “kill-butchering” site. Analyses of diatoms, pollen and volcanic ash date the site to the Pleistocene about 40,000 years ago. Later excavations turned up molar teeth, and more than 83,000 fossils have been found over the years. The Naumann elephant from Lake Nojiri is rather larger than those found in other locations, with a shoulder height estimated at about 2.75 m      

Besides Lake Nojiri, many fossils have been dredged up from sea bottom of the Naruto Straits and specimens may be seen at Tokushima Prefectural Museum.

Visit the Naumann Elephant Commemoration Hall to see its Naumann Elephant fossil exhibit. This hall displays the fossilized remains of a Naumann’s elephant discovered during road development work in 1969. A reproduction skeleton of this 4.3 m. long beast and other related materials are also displayed. Located alongside Churui Michi-no-Eki – a roadside station on Route 236, the address is: 383-1 Churuishirogane-machi, Makubetsu-cho, Nakagawa-gun, Hokkaido.

Access: From JR Obihiro Station: 47 mins by Tokachi bus bound for Taiki / Hiroo, From Naumanzo-Kinenkan-Mae bus stop: immediate access. Phone: 01558-8-2826 

See a fossil footprint of a Naumann Elephant at this page.

Facts about the Akebono Elephant aka Stegodon aurorae:

The Akebono Elephant, a member of the Stegodon Family, existed from the Late Tertiary Period to the Early Pleistocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period, long before the Naumann’s Elephants or mammoths existed. In 1975, some fossilized teeth were found in the Iruma River. Since 1985, museum staff of the Saitama Museum of Natural History  discovered enough fossil teeth to restore a complete skeleton of the Akebono Elephant. Visit the Saitama Museum of Natural History or the Kawasaki City Youth Science Centre where you can see closeup a Akebono Elephant fossil skeleton and teeth.


Y. Kondo, N. Mazima, Nojiri-ko Research Group p. 284

野尻湖層産のナウマンゾウ化石 | Fossil Remains of the Naumann Elephant from the Nojiri-ko Formation, 地質学論集 (19), 167-192, 1980-03-29

Explore the Heart of Japan: Lake Nojiri

After 50 years, fossil fans still dig at Lake Nojiri (Yomiuri Shimbun, Mar. 26, 2012)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s