The Teaching of “Jōmon:” Human Beings with Great Passion

New York, N.Y.  I will continue to write about “Jōmon Dou.” Jōmon Dojo is a word created by my acquaintance, Mr. Haruichi Kato. He posits there are hints to solve various problems of our present age in the way of life and way of thinking of the people of the Jōmon period.

It is said that research in the Jōmon period is very popular in Japan, and recently there was an exhibition of the Jōmon period in the National Museum that was very popular. There was a meeting in Tokyo in January this year where you could hear the story about Jōmon-do. It was a great learning experience.

Jomon JPGThe recent exhibition of Jōmon period in the National Museum was very popular.

Jōmon People Without Weapons to Attack Others

In my last column April 20th, I wrote about Jōmon pottery. More than that, I was surprised by the nature of the Jōmon people. The first surprise was the fact that the people of Jōmon had no weapons at all. As they were hunters, they had tools to hunt animals for eating, but they did not attack or kill anything else as they did not have weapons to attack or kill people.

In addition, it is said that the use of the mind, such as love of others and understanding of others, is a feature of Jōmon. These ancient people practiced acts of giving and kindness without competition. It is said 51% of the Jōmon people’s DNA has been passed on to modern Japanese. I think our unique Japanese culture is rooted in the Jōmon people.


I was surprised to learn that seemingly this same DNA is also found in the Tibetan people! I have always been in touch with Tibetans who are really full of passion, even tiny three-year-old children. Tibetans are more active in making the world peaceful, just as I have always thought it should be. The same thing has always been thought of Japanese people, so the kindness of Japanese and Tibetan kindness roots might have been like this! I was surprised with.

Fighting and killing began in the Yayoi era. there are various theories as to how long Jōmon period was, but it is estimated that from 15,000 B.C. to around 2000 B.C. That means that the Jōmon period lasted for about 13,000 years, but during this time, even though there was technology to make weapons to fight people were there, there are no sign that weapons were made. Perhaps it was possible to live in peace without killing other human at all. Why?

yayoi01Zasshonokuma: stone daggers from graves of the Yayoi period.

After I heard this I thought, this is a powerful theory that since the Yayoi period various races entered the area of Japan.  When farming came in at that time, fighting between villages began. When farming is at the center of life, good and bad harvests are divided according to the area. This made the differences between rich and poor and thus difference in status. This is when attacks on other villages aiming at the time of harvest seems to have started.

When I heard about the Jōmon period in this meeting, I thought instinctively that Japanese roots were Jōmon. Recently I read Kojiki,” the ancient chronicle of myths and legends, many times, but the Japanese in“Kojiki” are far from my Japanese image. Lots of sex and killing. Now do not feel that this is Japanese roots at all. On the contrary, the story of Jōmon was convincingly enough to this meeting, as Jomon story feel just right in my heart. My DNA only reminded me of Japanese goodness.

Kojiki-IzanagiIzanagi and Izanami, Sun Goddess Amaterasu’s parents, from the “Kojiki.”

When I was in elementary school in the mountains, one day in a science class we went on excursion. We had found a cave, something like the residence of ancient people near the top of the mountain. There was a sea shell mound nearby and pottery was excavated nearby, so our teacher said that this might have been a site of the Jōmon people’s dwelling.

I truly desire to return to that place today.

Originally published as Vol. 69 in Weekly Biz, April 27, 2019; translated by Jim Luce.

See: Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura Column in Japan’s Weekly Biz



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About Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura

View all posts by Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura
Dr. Kazuko was born into a distinguished old family in Kyoto, Japan, and graduated from Toho conservatory of Music in Tokyo. In 1961 she came to U.S. as a pianist sponsored by the Boston Symphony. She studied at Boston University, New York University, and received her Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine from New York State University and the International Academy of Education in Tokyo. From 1968 to 1992, she promoted cultural exchanges from East to West and vice versa, and became a world famous impresario, producing 2,000 events each year all over the world encompassing over 140 countries. In this connection, in 1972, she went to Dharamsala to find the lost Tibetan Folk Opera, and met His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with whom she remains a lifelong friend. In 1973 and 1991 she arranged and funded personally the tours of the Folk Opera of Tibet to the West. She has received many medals and honors from different countries. Her tireless life long work in Philanthropic field is vast and well known ranging from Save the Beacon Theater, Save the Boat People, Help the Homeless, natural disasters of earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as relief to AIDS and HIV positive children in Africa. She has been a dedicated Board Member to both the J. Luce Foundation and Orphans International for years. Her work focuses on the Tibetan people; Tibetan children remain especially strong in her heart. She raised fund for the new academic building for Manjushree Orphanage in Tawang, India and supported many aspects of the school. See HuffPo pieces entitled Japanese Holistic Healer in NYC to Build School for Tibetan Orphans in India, A Japanese Dinner with Raul Castro’s Daughter, and NYC Gala in Support of Tibetan Orphans Set for January.

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