Museum General Information

Hakodate Jomon Culture Center

Museum
Hakodate City, Hokkaido
Must-Visit Museum Shop Impediment removal Support in English

* English pamphlets are available.
* Wheelchairs are allowed. Guide dogs are allowed.

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Facility Outline:
A center for learning about Jomon culture

External viewThe Jomon culture is a distinctive Japanese culture, and it is rare in the world in that it lasted for more than 10,000 years while adapting to harsh environmental changes. The Hakodate Jomon Culture Center is a unique museum that provides valuable information about the Jomon culture from a broad perspective. The Hollow Clay Figure (Chuku-Dogu), Hokkaido’s only national treasure, is on display there, as well as pottery, stone implements and many other artifacts that had been unearthed from Jomon sites in Hakodate City.

The facility houses a hands-on lab where visitors can try seven kinds of programs, including miniature pottery making, Jomon pendant making and Jomon knitting. Many original products featuring clay figurines and other artifacts as part of their design, such as magnets and tote bags, can only be bought at this facility, which also has a roadside station that provides local tourist information and specialty products.

Permanent Exhibition:
Meet the Hollow Clay Figure (Chuku-Dogu), Hokkaido’s only national treasure

There are four exhibition rooms where visitors can learn about the natural environment of the Jomon era, the lifestyle of the Jomon people and their world view. The Hollow Clay Figure, a national treasure nicknamed Kakku, is on display in Exhibition Room 4. This clay figure, which measures 41.5 cm in length, and was unearthed from the Chobonaino Site in Hakodate, is the largest of its kind in Japan. The entire body from head to toe is elaborately made of thin clay with a beautiful pattern, representing Jomon people’s spirituality and artistic sense.

Hollow Clay Figure (Chuku-Dogu)

Hollow Clay Figure (a national treasure)

Hollow Clay Figure (a national treasure)
* Height: 41.5 cm; width: 20.1 cm; weight: 1,745 g
* Unearthed from the Chobonaino Site in Hakodate, Hokkaido
* Latter half of the Late Jomon era (approx. 3,500 years ago)

This clay artifact discovered in Hakodate’s Chobonaino Site in 1975 is known as the Hollow Clay Figure because of the void inside it. A local housewife happened to find it while harvesting potatoes in a field. Although part of the head and both arms were missing, the figure was otherwise in near-perfect condition. It is the largest of its kind in Japan, and is characterized by its full face, large square shoulders, slender waist and long legs, as well as the aesthetic appeal of its symmetry. Its extremely elaborate and graphic structure has a clear pattern that represents the costumes of those days.

The figure’s intended purpose remains unclear, but it is thought to be related to faith and rituals as well as being a valuable artifact symbolizing the spiritual culture of the Jomon era. The fact that it is a hollow clay figure, which is very difficult to make, is a testament to the high artistic skills of the Jomon people.
Today the figure is referred to as Kakku. This name consists of two Chinese characters – one from the Japanese place name Minamikayabe, where the sites are located, and the other from the Japanese word for hollow clay figure. The artifact was designated as Hokkaido’s only national treasure in 2007, and was exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum in 1992 and in the British Museum in 2001 and 2009, enchanting people with its beauty.

Clay tablets with impression of feet

Clay tablets with impression of feet

Clay tablets with impression of feet
* Thickness: 1 – 2 cm; length: 11 – 17.5 cm; width: 8 – 22 cm
* Unearthed from the Kakinoshima Site in Hakodate, Hokkaido
* End of the Initial Jomon era (approx. 7,000 years ago)

Seventeen clay tablets bearing children’s footprints were unearthed at the Kakinoshima Site in the Hakodate area of southern Hokkaido. Some show an impression of a single foot, some show both feet, and some also have a handprint on the back. The tablets have one or two holes for string suspension.
Most of the footprints appear to be from children aged between 1 and 10. They are considered to be from dead children or to have been used to decorate the tablets as charms or spells for sick children. As few clay tablets with impression of feet have been found in Japan, their intended purpose remains unclear. However, they may represent parents’ feelings for their children, which undoubtedly have much in common with those of present-day parents.

Lacquered spouted vessel

Lacquered spouted vessel

Lacquered spouted vessel

This vessel lacquered in black and then in bright vermillion was unearthed at the Kakinoshima Site in the Hakodate area of southern Hokkaido. Measuring 11.5 cm in height, it has a spout almost at its center and is considered to have been used to pour sake at special ceremonies. Its design demonstrates the high-level lacquering techniques of Jomon era people.


Exhibition room This exhibition room has a mysterious atmosphere of Jomon culture and displays a large number of valuable artifacts and materials.

Exhibition room
This exhibition room has a mysterious atmosphere of Jomon culture and displays a large number of valuable artifacts and materials.

A part of exhibits

A part of exhibits

Clay flute A variety of artifacts are on display along with materials such as photos from the time they were discovered. This photo shows a hollow clay flute considered to have been played by blowing into the hole.

Clay flute
A variety of artifacts are on display along with materials such as photos from the time they were discovered. This photo shows a hollow clay flute considered to have been played by blowing into the hole.

Recommended Activities:
There are reconstructions of a forest and pit dwellings from the Jomon era

Historic Ofune Site, which is undergoing improvement

Historic Ofune Site, which is undergoing improvement

As many as 87 Jomon sites have been found in the Minamikayabe area, Hakodate City, Hokkaido. Among them, historic Ofune Site and Kakinoshima Site constitute component parts of the Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku, a candidate World Heritage site. Ofune Site, which is a 10 minute-drive from the Center, provides an opportunity to experience the archetypal scenery of Jomon including restored pit dwellings and Jomon Forest, the vegetation of Jomon era. Kakinoshima Site, where excavations are being conducted to improve the historic value of the site, will be opened to the public in the future.

Exhibitions Information

No information now.

Basic Information

Facility nameHakodate Jomon Culture Center
Address551-1 Usujiri-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Tel.+81-138-25-2030
HoursSummer (Apr. 1 – Oct. 31): 9:00 – 17:00; winter (Nov. 1 – Mar. 31): 9:00 – 16:30
ClosedMondays (Tuesday if it follows a Monday that is a national holiday), last Friday of the month, year-end and New Year holidays
Admission feeGeneral public: 300 yen; students and pupils: 150 yen; preschool children: free
AccessApprox. 90 min. by Hakodate Bus from JR Hakodate Station to Usujiri Shogakko-mae bus stop, then 15 min. on foot (Access Information)
WebsiteEnglish / Japanese
Related websiteJomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku
Map
Display the Hakodate Jomon Culture Center on an enlarged map.
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