Jomon revival: Interest in Japan’s indigenous hunter-gatherers grows – The Japan Times

Posted in Tattoo Shop on Dec 21, 2019

Filmmaker Nobutaka Yamaoka released a documentary last year titled Hooked on the Jomon, in which he interviewed experts on the period from various fields, including archaeologist and renowned Jomon scholar Tatsuo Kobayashi, graphic designer Taku Sato and Murakamis father, the ceramic artist Ifurai.

I had no interest in the period until I heard that Jomon people buried their dead children beneath the entrance to their homes, he says. The custom was so drastically different from ours that I became curious about who these people were.

Yamaoka, 54, spent five years visiting museums and archaeological sites dotting the nation and talking to academics, artists and other fans of the culture. The more he learned, however, the more questions he harbored.

And thats the beauty of it, he says. Rather than analyzing and trying to understand the period based on our own standards, accepting what we dont know and the fact that people may have lived in a completely different world 5,000 years ago is, in a sense, liberating.

In this regard, Yamaoka says the way in which the Jomon Period is portrayed in museums, books and archaeological sites may be doing a disservice to the eras potential as a cultural draw.

Despite the florid designs featured in Jomon pottery, jewelry and other artifacts, reproductions of pit houses, for example, come off as being very discreet and low-key, he says. I think it would be beneficial, in terms of breaking the stereotype and arousing interest in the period, if we portray the culture in a more vivid, colorful light, he says.

Thats what Akihide Mochizuki has been doing with Jomonzine, a free magazine he launched in 2015. Each issue features a cover girl imitating a dogu figurine pose, and includes travelogues, comic strips, Q&As and even serial fiction all related in one way or another to the prehistoric period.

There appears to have been no significant social hierarchy during the Jomon Period, and that may be one reason the era lasted for more than 10,000 years, the 47-year-old says. In that sense, I thought it would be interesting and not too far-fetched to feature Jomon culture in the context of modern popular culture.

Whats more, interest in the ancient society appears to be growing.

There have been dogu-inspired origami, cookies, candies, notebooks and neckties sold. Approximately 350,000 people visited the Tokyo National Museum last year when it hosted a Jomon exhibition, far exceeding its initial goal of 100,000. Yamaokas documentary also coincided with the exhibition, giving it a much broader run than he expected.

And on Thursday, the government decided to recommend 17 Jomon sites in northern Japan as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage candidate for 2021.

The perception of Jomon being a primitive, obsolete period is changing, Mochizuki says. Many people are beginning to think Jomon is cool.

Meanwhile, Oshima and Maedas second Jomon exhibition held in a gallery in Tokyo successfully wrapped up on Dec. 1.

Tattoos tend to be discussed in the context of yakuza and the style developed in the Edo period and onward, Oshima says. What were trying to express, however, is that it existed long before in various parts of the world in the form of tribal tattoos.

And Oshimas Jomon-inspired designs appears to have struck a chord with Japanese descendants living overseas.

Ive received requests for Jomon tattoos from American Nikkei who are keen on getting my designs inked to celebrate their ancient ancestry, he says.

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Jomon revival: Interest in Japan's indigenous hunter-gatherers grows - The Japan Times

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