reproduction of a Jomon period dwelling

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The Pre-historic Origins of Japan

The oldest document about Japan's history was a collection of Chinese history. The History of 24 Dynasties written in the First Century AD. However the facts showed that Japan was home to a large hunting and gathering society before cultivation of rice and the introduction of technology. The rich ecosystem in that land made it more possible to survive there. The oldest known ceramic was from the Jomon Age (c.14,000–300 BCE).

The Prehistoric Eras of Japan

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The Jomon Age. Japan’s Palaeolithic Era, beginning from stone equipment and ending around 12,000 BCE in the last ice age or the beginning of the Mesolithic Era: The Jomon Age. Evidence from archeological digging showed that the Japanese island was inhabited by humans since 35,000 BC. The island was separated from the Asian landmass after the Ice Age in 11,000 BC. This was the era when Japanese people lived as hunter-gatherers and used pottery.

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Jomon Age. The Jomon age happened from 14,000 BC until 300 BC. The earliest signs of civilization and of human activity happened in Japan at this time. Their lives as hunters, semi-sedenter gatherer of Mesolyticum–Neolyticum was certainly difficult. They stayed in the houses which were built by digging into the soil and using natural resources such as wood or sticks. Jomon’s civilization had recognized the importance of agriculture but they did not know about sewing clothes. They were made from animal fur. They began making jugs made from mud then were decorated with patterns and molded on the surface by stick or rope.

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Based on radiocarbon detection, the oldest ceramic from Japan included daggers, dolls, bowls, and combs made from sea shells. The dolls from soil which were known as dogu are also found in them. The household tools showed that there was a lot of trading from Okinawa. DNA analysis showed that the people from Hokkaido and Northern part of Honshu’s island, Ainu tribes, also began in the Jomon Age. They were the first humans who inhabited Japan.

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Yayoi Age. Yayoi age was believed to be from 400 BC or 300 BC until 250 AC. Yayoi Archeology website, Bunkyo District, Tokyo found the artifacts. From the beginning of Yayoi era, found they could sew, farm, believed in magic, and created equipment from iron and copper which were learned from Korea and China. Several paleobotany studies showed planting rice and irrigation was known since 8000 BC in Yangtze Delta River and were brought to Japan about 1000 BC. The Chinese historical documents told that Japan was The Last Book of Han from 57 AC. That book told about in the part of Auction District lived the "Wa" people. They had around 100 tribes. They often came and paid tribute to the Chinese.

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The history of 3 Country from the 3rd century showed the country which was made from 30 small tribes lead by a witch name Himiko from Yamataikoku. During the Han Dynasty and Wei Dynasty, the China wanderer arrived in Kyushu and noted about the civilization who lived there. According to them, they were Taibo’s heir from Wu country. They showed similar characteristics with Wu pre-China which knew about things like tattoos. The Book of Sanguo Zhi recorded about their physical resemblance with the people drawn in haniwa’s doll. Men with long hair, bodies with tattoo and women who wore long dresses in big size.

Once the Jomon Civilization had come into contact with rice cultivating from China and metal working from Korea, Japan became the culture we know today. Learning from the past is important for any history student and because Japan's is one of the oldest recorded, we can learn the fascinating process of how civilizations can change.

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