Can you imagine that people were living right here, in the snowiest place in the world, around 4500 years ago?! Takashi Kuroiwa, pictured above, is an archeologist and member of the Nozawa Onsen Archeological Study Group.
Mr Kuroiwa wants to show people how the Jomon people – the Stone Age people of Japan – lived, and that beneath the soil in these mountains and valleys the remains of their civilization can be found. In fact, the treasures here are so plentiful that that the Archeological Association will let visitors handle the artifacts themselves! Not like in a museum where the precious pieces are kept behind glass.
Today’s event was billed as an Archeological pool party with painting, so yeah, it had to be done. We started by looking at some Jomon art for inspiration. The most famous of these is the Jomon Venus. A curvaceous goddess, she would have been worshipped as the bringer of healthy children and safe childbirth. I’m always up for a spot of goddess worship!
After we finished designing our Jomon costumes, it was time to get lunch. Literally. We plunged our feet into the icy mountain stream which had previously been generously stocked with iwana, a little trout-like fish. I didn’t think I’d be able to catch one with my bare hands, but after a few slippery false starts, I was flipping fishies like a Jomon Ray Mears. Luckily we didn’t have to start a fire the Jomon way! Instead we handed them over to the hotel chef, while the tired hunters retired to the hotel pool. If you’re interested, Mr Kuroiwa believes that the Jomon people probably could swim, but whether they had chefs or not, is up for debate.
The Nozawa Archeological Association runs events throughout the year. Contact Hiromi Matsumura at Live the Seasons for details.