Jomon ruins near Misawa to be World Heritage site

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

Jomon ruins near Misawa to be World Heritage site

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Okinawa

Japan will soon be home to 20 World Heritage sites with the addition of Jomon ruins in the north.

The set of 17 settlement ruins, stone circles and a cemetery scattered in parts of Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate and Akita dating to the Jomon Period (10,000 B.C. – 200 B.C.) will be officially registered in July.

The Sannai-Maruyama site is one of the largest among the 17 ruins and is only about an hour drive from Misawa Air Base. Here you’ll find pit-dwellings, pillared buildings, stone tools and other ancient objects discovered.

Fortunately, this site is open to the public. The adjacent Sanmaru Museum showcases many of the artifacts found at the site.

Sanmaru Museum

The main attraction is the large pillar-supported building, which was reconstructed as a three-story building with 4.2-meter-wide floors. The roof has not been reconstructed since there are several possible theories as to its form.

“Some say it was used as lighthouse, some say it was an observation platform, and others say it was a kind of religious monument,” Yasuyuki Iwata, of the Aomori Prefecture Cultural Properties Protection Division. said. He added that the dwellers were ancestors of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido.

Though the building is currently under repair, it should be open again at the end of June 2021.

Sanmaru Museum offers English-speaking volunteer guides to answer questions, so don’t be afraid to ask. Make plans to visit if you’re in the Misawa area as it’s a rare opportunity to step back in time more than 5,000 years.

Sannai-Maruyama special historical site

Hours: Jun - Sep, 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., Oct - May, 9 a.m. - 5 a.m.

Admission: 410 yen ($3.50), college and high schoolers: 200 yen

Tel: 017-781-6078

Website

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