3rd November, 2002
Resident, RELNET CORP
Jomon People and Pillars
The excavation of San'nai-Maruyama remains in Aomori Prefecture
where is the North end of Honshu Island of Japan brought us numbers
of discoveries as a clue to the Mysterious 'Jomon Culture' in 5,000
years ago. (* Jomon culture started approx. BC 100 century and finished
BC 5 century.) What I most pay attention among them is the discovery
of 'marks of gigantic pillars'. Marks of pillars in tidy line suggest
that there used to existed huge building (it could be shrine or residence
or warehouse) and I think the news front reported the opinion of the
experts as 'the culture level of 'Jomon people' was much higher than
However, I cannot agree with this opinion unconditionally. Needless
to say, 'the culture level of Jomon people was higher', but the interpretation
of 'marks of pillars' is totally different. Of course, I am not archeologist,
so following opinion is entirely my conjecture. Even so, I believe
it will become a valid theory and it would be appreciated if my readers
would give me the opinions.
It is reported as 'marks of pillars in tidy line', but those gigantic
holes (they had quite long diameter) were really marks of 'pillars'
which support the buildings? Naturally, we, the people of modern life,
regard 'those marks of pillars' in tidy line as 'the proof of the
existence of the buildings'. If you have a little knowledge of architecture,
it is not difficult to infer how big buildings were standing there
from the diameter and the span. What I have on my mind, however, is
such a simple question as this idea of 'pillars in line = buildings'
equals to 'Jomon people'?
Significant Meaning of Standing Pillars
Let me tell you my conclusion first. They must be not the pillars
for the buildings but the marks of 'the pillars'. It is regarded that
the religious meaning of building a 'pillar' for the ancients is far
beyond our imagination of the moderns. If you are the one who watched
the opening ceremony of Nagano Olympic Winter Games, you might understand
that 'On-hashira-Matsuri', which was handed down from ancient times,
was expressed as a symbol. The most important is the action 'to build
a pillar' itself.
We can understand easily how the human beings had been passionate
for building something on the ground by looking around the world.
The examples are the totem poles of the Native Americans, that is,
Northeast Asian Mongoloids who have the same origin as the Jomons
and the Stonehenge of the ancient Celts. There is a word 'homo erectus'
in the anthropology term meaning that 'a man stands up and starts
walking with feet' morphologically, but it cannot give us a clear
answer for the fundamental question, 'why our ancestors should had
abandoned their familiar four-foot walking and stood up?' Human beings
had been having such a strong passion for 'standing up' from the very
beginning. Therefore, they aimed at 'the higher things', felt the
existence of divinity there and built 'pillars'.
Connecting Symbol between the Earth and Heaven
Then, why the 'hottate-hashira' which is a pillar directory standing
from the ground shape was taken in Japan? The general theory says
that 'the Japanese had not known the buildings on the cornerstone
until when 'the culture' of Buddhism and the others from the mainland
of China and the Korean peninsula. However, the predecessors in this
country which has monsoon like humidity climate must had noticed that
'hottate-hashira' would had rot off soon. Because, if not, it is inexplicable
that the 'hottate-hashira' architecture continued in many shrines
such as the Grand Shrine of Ise, even after those massive buildings
on the cornerstone, especially Buddhist temples, started building
In the first place, in Japan, there was no conception of the building
of a Shinto shrine to enshrine kami (gods) until some religions such
as the Buddhism were introduced and the tiled roof on the cornerstone
buildings were started to build. Those gigantic trees and rocks, or
the mountain itself were used to be objects of worship as divine existence.
The Buddhist temple, where to reach a metaphysical state of 'Nirvana'
is their aim, used the cornerstone in order to separate from 'the
ground of the material world'. In contrast to this, our predecessors,
the animists, built a pillar as a symbol of the connection between
the earth and the heaven. If so, the pillar should had been the 'hottate-hashira'
and there kami-god came near.
Even nowadays, in this country, when we count kami-gods or the souls
of the dead, we count like 'one hashira, two hashirac' We can easily
imagine that the Jomons who were in San'nai-Maruyama thousands years
ago built the massive 'pillar' to invite kami-gods. Marks of 'pillars
in tidy line' must be the marks enshrined kami-gods symbolizing something
Pillars and Homo Erectus
The Yoshinogari remains in Saga Prefecture where is the North of
Kyushu Island is a moat remain of the latter term of Yayoi period
and many 'marks of pillars' are found there. (* Yayoi culture started
approx. BC 4 century and finished AD 3 century.) The replica shows
us the admirable building, a watch-house, but I like to question this
as well. There is a recent established study called 'pollen archeology'
and they try to infer botanic property of the area at the period of
the remains by analyzing the substances such as 'pollens' included
in the soils at the excavation. According to the analysis of the pollen
archeology, at that time the Yoshinogari area was covered with trees
of 20 or 30 meters high. It is an open field now, but if it was a
forest in those days there is no meaning of the building itself like
a watch-house. It is natural to assume that those 'marks of pillars'
are also some sorts of religious monuments. If they were only for
living, they had no need such a huge size of buildings.
Even nowadays, we Japanese set up 'bamboo' around the site at Ground
Purification and a stupa just after funeral in one's family tomb in
cemetery. By the way, for your information, the etymology of 'stupa'
is Sanskrit of the ancient India. The word was introduced to Europe
and became the derivation of the word 'statue' and 'status'. From
this fact, we can assume that the human beings were really interested
in 'to stand' and in that sense they were 'homo erectus (standing