March, 2003 

This page is written monthly by Harumi Okochi,
and sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at ou
r previous issues.


Chestnuts and acorns
Food of the ancients


Where did rice come from?
\Karatsu-the gateway to and from the Asian Continent\

Hi, friends.
Spring has come.
River banks and roadsides are all yellow with the rape flowers.

Today, I would like to invite you to a very special place in Karatsu.
It is "Nabatake" Archaeological Relics.
Would you like to know what "Nabatake" means? It is "Rape-flower fields".
We take oil from rape seeds. We use the oil for cooking, and before electricity we used it to light our nights.
Here, in the near centuries, as far as you could see, there were rape fields. That is why this place is called Nabatake even now.

Some twenty years ago, an archaeological discovery surprised and delighted Japan. The relics showed that here was a small village about 2600years ago. Later it was designated as the National Historical Relics as the oldest rice fields (water field) in Japan. We could see where rice came from, and it is a hint to solve the question, "Where did we come from?"

Now the site was covered again and on that place we have a museum "Matsuro-kan" to commemorate this origin of Japanese agricultural civilization.

Be an archaeologist today, and enjoy your small tour in the museum!

Matsuro-kan Museum, in Nabatake, Karatsu.
From where did rice come to Japan?
One route is from China.
Another is from Korea.
There may be some other routes.
In the yard of the museum, you can see a house of ancient time.
To build this hut, first dig a round hole on the ground about 2 feet deep. Second, stand some pillars to support the roof. Shape the roof like woman's skirt. Use bamboos and timbers as the petticoat.
And thatch the roof with weeds or some other things.
Retrieved ancient rice field.
Small stream is near, and water is led into the fields.
Inside the house, and the family of the ancients.
Mom is cooking. Papa is drinking. Girl is pounding nuts with a stone to help mother. Young boy is playing with a dog.
Around the fire, what a happy family!
Hello, my far ancestors!
Ancient village in this land must have been like this miniature.
In the forest, they gather nuts, hunt small animals and shoot birds. They get timbers and fuel also.
There is a river, which grows rice abundantly.
The village faces a bay, where they fish and get shell-fish.
Houses are surrounded with walls against enemies.
In the photo, small white dots are people. Long white boards are sign boards to explain us what these people are doing.
This man is planting rice shoots into the water field.
We do not seed directly in the water fields. We seed in other small patch of water, and when the young shoots are about 1 foot tall, we replant them into the water field, where water is about our ankle deep.
The priest is saying a prayer. It is a harvest festival like your thanksgiving day. Pig heads are the offerings to the Gods.
You will be surprised to see how red the ancient rice is.
Tools were made with stones and trees.
They had already started to have domestic animals to preserve food. This jaw-bone of pig shows this pig suffered from toothache, which, wild boars would never have had. Poor pig!
This bone is an Important Cultural Treasure of Karatsu City. Please don't steal it, Mr. Thieve.
They made beautiful earthenware too.
Fish bones were used to fish fishes.
Sea urchin prickles were used as needles, and clothes were made like this.
Hum... nice fashion!
Shells from south sea were bracelets. This shell can not be found in near water. That tells us they were already trading.
Weapons tell us that the time was not peaceful. There were wars.
Two urns were laid mouth to mouth, and inside the dead person was laid.
Sometimes, only one urn was used for plain people.
What did they dream in this coffin?
I feel it was an eternal peace that they wanted.
They will feel sorry to wake up and know there still remain wars between nations.
We never learn!

Thank you very much for meeting my far parents. I hope you understand that Karatsu is a very special place in Japan. It is the gateway to and from the Asian Continent and the South Sea.

If you see yellow rape flowers, remember Nabatake, from where the dawn of Japanese civilization broke.

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi

Proprietress of Ryokan Yoyokaku

  Mail to Harumi Okochi