Title SKELETONS IN THE SAND DUNES -The Yayoi people uncovered in half a century of excavations at the Doigahama Site,Yamaguchi Prefecture-
Period December 11, 2018 – March 24, 2019
Hours 9:00-17:00
*9:00-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays
*Last entry 30 minutes before closing.
*Opening days, hours etc. are subject to alteration. Please check the website before your visit.
Closed Mondays (Except December 24, January 14, February 11・25)
December 28~January 1 , January 15, February 12
Organizers National Museum of Nature and Science


National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo
Adress 7-20 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-8718
Map of National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.

Highlights of the Exhibition


The Yayoi Period represented a huge turning point for the history of the Japanese. Not only did rice cultivation from the continent change dietary habits, it also provided the driving force behind changes in society and culture. What did the people who inhabited the Japanese archipelago at that time look like, and how did they live? The majority of the human skeletal remains from the Yayoi Period, which tell us what they looked like during their lifetimes, have been discovered in Kyushu and Yamaguchi Prefecture. Recent research on these bones has revealed what the people of Yayoi looked like and the roots of the Japanese race. This exhibition introduces the Doigahama Site, which has provided the opportunity for research of the Yayoi people, as well as the history of research into the people of Yayoi, from the early days through to the most recent research.

1. The Mysterious People of the Yayoi Period

Kyushu University's anthropologist Takeo KanasekiHuman skeletal remains from the Yayoi Period were not discovered for many years; they were brought to light only when the debate over the history of the Japanese started in earnest during the Meiji Period. The main problem at that time was how to explain the fact that the morphological traits of human skeletal remains from the Jomon Period differed greatly from those from the Kofun Period through to modern times. The key to solving this problem arrived in the shape of human bones from the Yayoi Period. Here we introduce the characteristics of the skull of people from the Jomon Period and one from the Kofun Period.

2. Discovery of the Doigahama Site

Discovery of the Doigahama SitePrior to the start of the Second World War, it was known that human skeletal remains belonging to an ancient people had been discovered on the Doigahama coast facing Hibikinada on the western tip of Honshu; however, this was forgotten during the confusion caused by the war. Human skeletal remains and seashell artifacts were discovered during construction work in 1952, and this information reached the ears of Professor Takeo Kanaseki of the School of Medicine of Kyushu University. Following this, Prof. Kanaseki carried out five excavations. Including these investigations, 19 excavations were carried out in total, which resulted in the excavated bones of approximately 300 Yayoi people.

3. Differences between Jomon People and Doigahama Yayoi People

Differences between Jomon People and Doigahama Yayoi PeopleAnalyses of the human skeletal remains excavated at the Doigahama Site showed that they have different morphological traits compared to Jomon people and that they have similar traits to modern-day Japanese people. In further detail, the heads of the Doigahama Yayoi people are relatively longer and flatter faces than Jomon people. It was also discovered that they are two to three centimeters taller on average. In this chapter we introduce the reason behind the difference in the morphological attributes of the Jomon people and the Doigahama Yayoi people, as well as the way in which the Yayoi’s traits became widespread.

4: Skeletal trauma Told the Yayoi Society

Skeletal trauma Told the Yayoi SocietyMany skeletal traumas, which mean that scars on human skeletal remains were made by sharp instruments, discovered in Yayoi period, in contrast with rare in the Jomon period. In Chinese history books, “Toiden” of the Book of the Later Han, there is a description about disturbances and warfare in Japan during the regin of Emperor Kan and Emperor Rei (A.D. 146 -189) in Later Han dynasty, which corrsponds to the Late Yayoi period in Japan. Majority of these traumas was apparently deadly wounds, and there are some reports that many skeletal traumas were found in one site. It is thought that the society of Yayoi period contained the murders and wars.

5. Front-Line of DNA Research into the People of Yayoi

Front-Line of DNA Research into the People of YayoiDNA research into ancient bones has recently advanced, and this shed new light on the skeletal remains of the Yayoi period, DNA is a substance carrying genetic information, and its analyses provides us with various details, such as group organizations and kinships between individuals. In particular, Next-Generation Sequencers that became available from around 2010 have enabled us to analyze the nuclear genomes of ancient people, a task that was thought to be impossible up until now; and this has provided us with incomparably detailed information. Here we introduce the latest DNA research using these sequencers into bones from the Yayoi Period.