-Logic of Comparison between Japan and Britain-

Takehiko Furuta

1.   During the period from 1986 until 1988, the appearance of Yoshinogari Relics surprised the academic circles of archaeology and ancient history, as well as ordinary people in Japan. One of the reasons for the surprise was that there was no such large community enclosed by a ditch not only in Japan but also elsewhere in the world. The second reason arises from the discovery of pillar holes for a multistoried wooden structure, which is assumed to correspond to the Watch Tower described in the Gishi Wajin Den of the Sangoku-shi in China.

Against this background, a comparison of Yoshinogari Relics with Maiden Castle, which is famous as the largest lron Age hillfort in Britain in the history of archaeology, has come into the spotlight of academic interest.

2.   In 1989 and 1990, the author visited Maiden Castle. The castle were constructed in 250 BC, 150 BC, and 50 BC. During the period the castle was enlarged from 6 ha to 18 ha and finally to 23 ha. The castle is regarded to be a base of the Celtic Dortridge tribe.

There are many differences between Yoshinogari Relics and Maiden Castle. For example, glassware such as comma-shaped beads (kudatama etc. ) and silkware were found at the former but not at the latter. The extraordinary number of slings and their stones is not outstanding at the former, but constitutes a remarkable feature of the latter.

Despite these differences, there are the following common factors: The first common factor is that they fall within the ironware and copperware ages. The second factor is that the Yoshinogari Relics, which are aged around the middle Yayoi period, belongs to almost the same period as that of Maiden Castle. The third one is that they are the two largest ditch-enclosed communities on eastern and western islands of the earth. These common factors and similarities cannot be doubted.

3.   Maiden Castle has a prehistory. The following table shows this.

-The Book of Maiden Castle-
(By John Kemp)



BY John Kemp

3000 BC


350 BC

eastern knoll with two concentric rings. Neolithic,steep sided,flat bottomed.
bank barrow along northern crest of hill, 546m long, parallel ditches 18m apart.
single rampart and ditch hillfort ringed eastern knoll following approximate course of Neolithic causewayed camp.
Entrances at east and west ends.
250 BC massively extended by enclosing whole hill, western knoll making glacis rampart. Elaborated entrances.
150 BC again rebuilt; double ramparts on N end and treble at S end. Inner rampart drops 15m vertical, back of the ramparts reinforced by sandstone slabs from within and upway. E and W ends, barbicans and sling platforms constructed.
100 BC redesigned eastern entrance.
44 AD Vespasian's Second Augustan Legion took the fort. Abandoned by 80 AD.
400 AD Anglo Roman temple with small houses built. Abandoned about 100 years later.

  That is, the existence of remnants of simple circular erected stones indicated that the place was already used at around 300 BC.

Of course, these erected stones are not remnants isolated in England and Wales (southern part of Great Britain). It is known that Stonehenge (Salisbury,Wiltshire) has a long history of construction and rebuilding from 3000 BC to lOOO BC. There is no doubt that Maiden Castle falls within a period after the construction periods represented by these huge standing stone relics.

This state may be simplified as follows:
"The presence of Maiden Castle, the world's largest ditch-enclosed community (before the appearance of Yoshinogari) , was based on experience of construction work and an accumulation of construction technologies over the preceding several thousand years."
The maxim "Rome was not built in a day" is also true in this connection.

4.   Well, what about the case of Yoshinogari? This is the main theme of this paper.

yosinogari site photograph blank
    The relics have a scale of 40 ha, which exceeds that of Maiden Castle. Moreover, ditch-enclosed communities have been discovered one after another east and west of Yoshinogari. This group of communities at Yoshinogari forms a military defense line connected in the east and the west, and seems similar to the Ligne Maginot (in France). Did these ditch-enclosed communities, which are much larger than Maiden Castle, bloom suddenly without any prehistory, in other words, without experience in and accumulation of expertise of construction work? The answer is "No."

If there are people who affirmatively assert there was a "sudden origination" in the Yayoi Period, we should present them with the title of "Superhuman Japanese Archipelago Inhabitants." Because their assertion is:
"After approximately 2000 years of prehistory, the ancient native people in Great Britain reached the level to create the world's largest ditch-enclosed community called Maiden Castle (before the appearance of Yoshinogari). This is an aspect of historical development concerning civil engineering construction activities. Contrary to this, the inhabitants on the Japanese Archipelago in the Yayoi Period suddenly formed big ditch-enclosed communities centered around Yoshinogari which by far exceed Maiden Castle in size without any prehistory. That is, the inhabitants of the Japanese Archipelago in the Yayoi Period, were "superhumans" differing totally from the ancient inhabitants of Great Britain at this point."

Whether the assertors of "sudden origination "in the Yayoi Period like it or not, they cannot help but include the foregoing assertion themselves. Such assertors cannot be free from being called megalomaniacs.
Rational people who do not want to fall into such dogmatism necessarily have to reach an understanding i,e., "The Jomon Period preceding the Yayoi Period in Japan should be regarded as the period of experience and accumulation of expertise of large-scale construction activities."

5.    During the period from the end of February 1993 up to the present (September 1995) , the author visited Cape Ashizuri in Kochi Prefecture 14 times to survey and investigate the huge stones (relics) in this area. The details will be submitted in a report to the Tosa Shimizu Board of Education by the end of this fiscal year with the following content:
(1)    The huge stones in this area are distributed in a number of groups over a wide area reaching 1,200 to 1,500 ha.
(2)   Basically, they are native to this area as cardinal stones or the base stones. Around these stones other medium-sized stones and large stones were moved and collected artificially to constitute "religious relics" as a whole.
(3)   These facts have been recognized by photographing the area from a balloon, and through research on rock joints by an expert (Professor Kagami) on petrography.
(4)   The above-mentioned results were obtained from guidance, instructions and advice of an expert on infrared rays (Professor Okamoto) and engineers in natural science (Mr.Sakaki and Mr.Nakashige) .
(5)   Furthermore, the results have also been substantiated by other research and investigation of natural science.
Moreover, the author has understood the following noteworthy facts from guidance of local historians and investigators:

The relics of this area have a distribution of rocks with various interesting styles.
For example;

Huge stones in the forms of male and female genitals, some of which have small shrines and Shinto shrine archways.
Mirror stones whose sides are flat and reflect sunshine or moonlight. (Many of them face south or southeast.)
Three rows of stones. Units of three stones are arranged in parallel. There are many of these stones. Some are natural and others are artficial.
  These facts have been revealed by this field research. More details are described in the report.

A relevant problem is the existence of a row of three huge stones on the summit of Mt. Rai (literally Rai San) in the north hinterland of Yoshinogari. One is in the form of a mirror stone, the second one is in the form of a female symbol, and the third one is in the form of a male symbol. These are arranged on a plane at the summit. They exist with exquisite mutual balance in an informal arrangement. The complicated and varied styles of the huge stones at the periphery of Cape Ashizuri have a sophisticated beauty with the utmost simplicity in a perfect order.
We cannot help but recognize that a proliferation of styles of civilization from the huge stones at the periphery of Cape Ashizuri to Rai San is seen here.
It is impossible to doubt that both areas exist with a common style of ancient civilization. In the background to the establishment of the Yoshinogari community at the foot of Mt. Rai (Rai San) , there is an implication or rather a suggestion in the similarity between the two that major construction activities were also underway in the Yoshinogari community.
There is a strong possibility that the huge stones at the periphery of Cape Ashizuri were completed during the Jomon Period, because:

Such widespread and profound civil engineering construction activities cannot be completed without a large population.
The overwhelming majority of earthenware and arrow heads that were found on agricultural lands in the periphery of Cape Ashizuri belongs to the Jomon Period, with many fewer belonging to the Yayoi Period and the Kofun (old burial mound) Period (and periods subsequent them). That is, it is difficult to find a large population in this area outside the Jomon Period. These points will be clarified in the report to be submitted. At the same time, it is anticipated that more facts will be revealed by subsequent archaeological digs.

Furthermore, the author would like to mention the arrival of people in Japan from overseas.
With respect to the establishment of the Yoshinogari community, there are a good number of scholars who point out the influences of people who came to Japan from China and Korean Peninsula. In fact, there is no doubt that the silk and glassware mentioned, as well as copperware and ironware, were all introduced to Japan with the arrival of people from China and the Korean Peninsula as a result of the proliferation of civilization. As far as this point is concerned, it may be said that a common understanding is shared.
Expanding this point further, is it possible to assert that the Yoshinogari community was established due to the arrival of people from overseas and their influence even without the prehistory of Jomon? The answer is "No," for the following reasons:

Civil engineering activities cannot be undertaken without the support of a large population, granted that there were some influences from the newcomers from overseas on the efficiency of the activities.
In Great Britain, just as the huge stones at Stonehenge are called the "Egyptian stones" by local people, for example, it is impossible to doubt that there was an influx of people, a proliferation of civilization, and the influence thereof from areas with advanced civilizations. It is well-known that there was a civilization that built large stone structures in Bretagne, France, on the southern coast of the straits of Dover. It would be too much to assert that the great construction work at Maiden Castle was achieved without visits by people with the proliferation of civilization and their influence.
In addition the copperware and ironware of Maiden Castle were introduced from the Continent (the route from Egypt via Turkey to France) as a result of the proliferation of civilization.
Accordingly, it is impossible again to regard the Yoshinogari Relics as a special phenomenon resulting only from the arrival of people from overseas and to separate the relics from the tradition of Jomon.
7.   The Meiji Restoration in 1868 was epoch-making in the history of Japan. It might be useful to emphasize this point. Conversely, the facts have recently been revealed that in the Edo Period the historical foundation had already been formed to make the revolution possible. For example, the compulsory education system implemented in the Meiji Period was revolutionary in that it was the second in the world, but it would not have been realized without the education of samurai implemented by each feudal clan or without the spread of private elementary schools in the Edo Period. This can be understood by picking up the example of teachers in Japan's compulsory education. Moreover, if the existence of such preparations before the Edo Period is ignored or neglected, then it would be impossible to answer the basic question about why the Japanese took a lead over other Asian countries and were quick enough to respond successfully to the transfer of western civilization.
The same applies to ancient Japan; great emphasis alone on the proliferation of civilization and the effects of the arrival of people from other countries (China and the Korean Peninsula) might not be enough to give objective explanations about such large-scale civil engineering construction activities as shown at Yoshinogari and its eastern and western regions.
That is, we cannot help but recognize the following fact:
The Jomon Period in the Japanese Archipelago was a period of great civil engineering construction activities using huge stones distributed throughout the archipelago.

8.   The research concept that is consistent throughout the paper is plain and natural in terms of logic, and is common sense. Such a common standpoint has never been adopted by in the study of ancient history and archaeology in Japan. Why? One of the reasons, in the author's opinion, might arise from the bad or incorrect application of Marxism to the ancient history of Japan.

A group of ancient history and archaeology scholars in Japan during the periods of Taisho (1913-1926) and Showa (1926-1989) employed this theory to analyze the history of Japan and tried to explain it. As a result, they regarded ancient Japan as follows:

"The Jomon Period was the age throughout which the Urkommunismus (primitive communism) was overwhelming in each community controlled by clan leaders."

They insisted that social classes and nations originated for the first time in the Yayoi Period. As a result, the facts of cooperative and unified organaizational labor in the Jomon Period were treated almost negatively.

Meanwhile, due to excavation of a cooperative Jomon (intermediate term) earthenware-making site (work place) at Akatsuka (Ibaraki Prefecture) , understanding though this ideology has been denied.

Nevertheless, the contempt for the Jomon civilization still survives obstinately in academic circles of archaeology and ancient history in Japan.

It may be said accordingly, that these scholars popularized a rather eccentric historical view; eccentric in that they did not pay any positive attention to the existence of huge stones peculiar to these mountainous islands, great religious remnants, and civil engineering construction activities on the Japanese Archipelago after the Paleolithic Era the stoneware civilization, the oldest industrial civilization on the Earth, which produced enormous numbers of stoneware, lasted for several hundred thousands of years, and the earthenware civilization which lasted for 12 thousand years, without changing their attitude. It is the assertion of this paper to abandon old customs and to return to plain common sense.

A wise man has already said? "Let go where the logic leads us, wherever it may reach."

This is the only one lighthouse that leads us through the ocean of learning. I have only followed this lead as a mere inquirer.

1 Yoshinogari Relics Yoshinogari Relics
2 Maiden Castle Maiden Castle

For Reference Document

2. Spring/1996
(1) Researches (Measurement & Experiment) For The Giant Stones Around Ashizuri Cape.
(2) Final Summary of Research (Measurement & Experiment) on Huge Stones in the Periphery of Cape of Ashizuri.
Takehiko Furuta
(Tosashimizu City Board of Education,Kochi,1995)

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Created by" Yukio Yokota"
Copyrighted by "T. Furuta"