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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The latter belongs to the Yamato race


was, in short, a neolithic culture. The vestiges of the other culture do not include weapons of stone. There are imitations of sheath-knives, swords, and arrow-heads, and there are some models of stone articles. But the alien features are iron weapons and hard pottery always moulded on the wheel. Copper is present mainly in connexion with the work of the goldsmith and the silversmith, and arrow-heads, jingle-bells, mirrors, etc., are also present. The former culture is identified as that of the aboriginal inhabitants, the Yemishi; the latter belongs to the Yamato race, or Japanese proper. Finally, "there are indications that a bronze culture intervened in the south between the stone and the iron phases."*

*Munro's Prehistoric Japan.


The neolithic sites occur much more frequently in the northern than in the southern half of Japan. They are, indeed, six times as numerous on the north as on the south of a line drawn across the main island from the coast of Ise through Orai. The neighbourhood of the sea, at heights of from thirty to three hundred feet, and the alluvial plains are their favourite positions. So far as the technical skill shown by the relics--especially the pottery--is concerned, it grows higher with the latitude. The inference is that the settlements of the aborigines in the south were made at an earlier period than those in the north; which may

be interpreted to mean that whereas the stone-using inhabitants were driven back in the south at an early date, they held their ground in the north to a comparatively modern era.

That is precisely what Japanese history indicates. Jimmu's conquests, which took place several centuries before the Christian era, carried him as far as the Ise-Omi line, but Yamato-dake's expedition against the Yemishi north of that line was not planned until the second century after Christ. Apart from the rough evidence furnished by the quality of the relics, calculations have been made of the age of an important shell-heap by assuming that it originally stood at the seaside, and by estimating the number of years required to separate it by the present interval from the coast at a fixed annual rate of silting. The result is from five thousand to ten thousand years. A book (the Hitachi Fudoki), published in A.D. 715, speaks of these kaizuka (shell-heaps) as existing already at that remote period, and attributes their formation to a giant living on a hill who stretched out his hand to pick up shell-fish. This myth remained current until the eighteenth century, and stone axes exhumed from the heaps were called thunder-axes (rai-fu) just as similar relics in Europe were called elf-bolts or thunder-stones.

There is great diversity of size among the shell-heaps, some being of insignificant dimensions and others extending to five hundred square yards. They are most numerous in the eight provinces forming the Kwanto. In fact, in these ancient times, the Yamato race and the aborigines had their headquarters in the same localities, respectively, as the Imperial and Feudal governments had in mediaeval and modern times. But there are no distinct traces of palaeolithic culture; the neolithic alone can be said to be represented. Its relics are numerous--axes, knives, arrow-heads, arrow-necks, bow-tips, spear-heads, batons, swords, maces, sling-stones, needles, drill-bows, drill and spindle weights, mortars and pestles, paddles, boats, sinkers, fishing-hooks, gaffs, harpoons, mallets, chisels, scrapers, hoes, sickles, whetstones, hammers, and drills.

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