Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Gosyono Jomon Site -Japanese Stone Age sites (4)

Gosyono Jomon Site, Ichinohe town, Iwate Pref.

Before I went on the Tohoku trip I collected information by internet and found this archaeological site. I contacted them to arrange a visit with the resident volunteer guide. They answered my e-mail very promptly and apologised for being unable to provide us with an English-speaking guide, but arranged guiding in Japanese.

This was the third site we visited taking advantage of their guides. They asked us how long we would like the tour to be, 30 minutes or an hour, and whether we’d like to visit the visitor centre. We found out later not everyone bothers with the centre.

The award winning building is impressive, it blends seamlessly into the environment and the exhibition was well-organized. I must say it’s well worth paying for the admission fee.

We excited to see so many unearthed artefacts from the many Jomon sites in the town. They were very good condition, far better than those we’d seen elsewhere, so much so we asked if they were copies, and we were amazed to see the quality of workmanship. They are stunning.

This mask is a replica - but that doesn’t detract from its striking appearance. The original was shipped to the British Museum for a special exhibition. It is pity we weren’t able to see the real thing.

We started out with one guide and ended with three of them. All are local people who support the activities of the site, they are enthusiastic and really hospitable. The best thing is we could hear the local people’s point of view about having an archaeological site on the doorstep and told us so many interesting stories.

The site had long been known to locals but it wasn’t until the local government were planning to build an industrial park to bring jobs to the area that it was brought to wider public attention. Whether to conserve the site or develop local industry was a controversial issue but ultimately residents choose to protect the regions history. I suppose the local government offered a replacement location for industrial development.

The site is more like a park in that people can visit free. There seems to be lots going on, experiments and activities not just restricted to scholars but also involving the local community.

We enjoyed it so much we spent more than two hours with our guides. Even at closing time they were kind enough to ask the place to stay open a little longer so they could finish showing us everything.

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