Sunday, 30 August 2009

Oyu Stone Circle -Japanese Stone Age sites (1)

Oyu Stone Circle, Kazuno, Akita Pref.
大湯環状列石 (秋田/鹿角市)

While I was staying at Akita, I found several stone circle symbols on the map and as I had enjoyed visiting megalithic monuments, sites and ruins in Britain, I went to see Oyu Stone Circle(大湯環状列石) to find out what a Japanese site was like.

Compared to Stonehenge or The Ring of Brodgar, it was on a much, much smaller scale but nevertheless unexpectedly interesting. I didn’t know anything about Japanese archaeological sites and what I heard and saw was beyond my expectation.

I went there twice during the summer. The first time I casually visited the site and enjoyed it but wanted know more so I asked to be accompanied by a volunteer guide on the second visit. He seemed to be an archaeologist rather than just a guide and his explanations were enthusiastic and informative. My husband and I visited two more sites afterwards the things he told us were of great help to understand more deeply the overall picture of life in northern Japan at that time.

The site was discovered in 1931 when the land was being cultivated, many stones were discovered. Fortunately someone who had some knowledge of stone circles learned about it and through his efforts the site was saved.

The site belongs to the Jomon period (16,500-3,000BC), graves have been found and also it is considered that the site was used for conducting ceremonies. The site is still under excavation from time to time, as funding allows, and there are still many unanswered questions.

I strongly recommended arranging a guide if you have a chance to visit it. Unfortunately they are not able to provide an English speaking volunteer guide so it may be necessary to ask someone who speaks Japanese to help. –They may be able to provide an English speaking guide in the future.

Official website (Japanese)

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