Category Archives: Jomon

Asadori Winter Matsuri 2018


Sacred and Science

The Asadori Myoujin Jinja has been observing a sacred winter solstice ceremony for thousands of years, since Jomon times. The Kanayama Megaliths have been tracking the path of the sun for the purpose of a solar calendar for five thousand years. How are they connected? For a ritual to be conducted exactly on the sacred day, in this case winter solstice day, the people had to know the calendar correctly to one day. Ancient Jomon people constructed the megalithic observatory which serves this purpose. Many old shrines, such as the Asadori Myoujin, have been laid out facing the direction of the winter solstice sunrise, and this also requires knowledge of solar astronomy.

Winter Solstice Matsuri, 2018

The Asadori Myoujin Jinja’s winter solstice matsuri took place at dawn on December 22, 2018. There was a driving rain, but many people were present. There was a bonfire outside the torii, for warmth and light. In clear weather, the rising sun would send its light through the torii to the altar at the small shrine. This morning, a canopy had been erected in front of the altar for some protection from the rain.

The ceremony opened with Baba-san, the negi-san (senior priest), leading with three calls of the Asadori (morning bird):

The group replied:
Senior priest Baba-san explained that they raised their voices joyously to greet the sun as it rises on winter solstice day. The guji-san chief priest recited a norito to Asadori Myoujin in gratitude for blessing the earth with the return of the sun to the northern skies.
After the formal ceremony, Baba-san lauded the kokoro (heart-mind) of those present for braving the heavy rain at dawn. Then, he announced that his 96th birthday would be the following day. After a lifetime of serving in this matsuri, he was stepping down and turning it over to his son.
96 year-old Baba-san
and Guji-san in foreground


Photos by Chika-san.


Jomon North Star in Summer


June 9, 2018 8:55 pm

What is the difference between the illustration on the left and that on the right? They both show the Big Dipper revolving around the North Pole as seen from Stone J at the Kanayama Megaliths.

The answer is:  the left illustrates the revolution of the Big Dipper in modern times; the right is how it looked to the Jomonese 5,000 years ago when the Kanayama Megaliths were young. The Big Dipper is now further away from the North Pole than it was during Jomon times.

This is part of the post, . This summer, from around 8 pm, we can see the North Pole star from J-stone at Kanayama Megaliths.


The current North Star is the Polaris star which is the alpha star in Ursa Minor. Stars around it rotate around this star. The photo above shows the stars visible to the naked eye. It is rather faint to see due in part to noise suppression in the digital camera. This was taken from our research center tonight. Big Dipper is in the upper left. The two stars in the bowl point to the North Star. Near the bottom right is the North Star.  In the northern sky, the stars rotate around this North Star. The Big Dipper also rotates a lot in the sky.


Above is the same image with constellation lines drawn in to help your visualization. The arc is part of the circle of the precessional path. Note how close the Big Dipper is to Thuban, the Pole Star of the Jomon.

Upper left:  Big Dipper in Ursa Major.   Center red arrow:  Thuban in Draco.   Purple:  Polaris in Ursa Minor

The Pole Star now is Polaris, one of the stars of Ursa Minor. During the Jomon period, the Pole Star was Thuban, Alpha Draconis. The reason for the change: precession.  In the image below, Kochab has been added in yellow. Kochab is the brightest star in bowl of Little Dipper, slighter fainter than Polaris.


Compare the rotation of the Big Dipper centered on the current Polaris star, and the rotation centered on pole star Thuban around 2500 BCE. Thuban, the pole star of the past, was much closer to the Big Dipper compared to the present, and the range of rotation is narrow. 






Leap-year Observation Spotlight of February 27 and 28

金山巨石群 閏年観測のスポット光

Kanayama Megaliths Leap-year Observation Spotlight of February 27 and 28

The topic of this post at the Kanayama blogsite is the leap-year observation at Stone b  in Iwaya-Iwakage. It takes place on 10/14 and 10/15 and is repeated on 2/27 and 2/28.   The photos for 2/27 and 2/28, when the light returns to the stone, are shown .




Of further interest is the ongoing study of the 128-year leap-year cycle. The  measurement of 6 cm was recorded. 

52 years have elapsed in the current 128-year cycle of the Kanayama Megaliths calendar. It will next be revised around the year 2094, 76 years from now. We consider the position of the light (in the photo) is as expected. This is in accordance with the theory described in the Guidebook, page 66, as shown at the top of this page.

The post’s concluding remarks were:

Although it is still cold this year, since the sun is steadily heading for spring, there is nothing to worry about. People in the Jomon period must have grasped the changing period of vegetation as well. Nevertheless, their power to build such a calendar building is great ….




Why are the Vedic and Jomon Calendars Identical?


The Hindu calendar which comes from the Vedas of 1200 BCE has six seasons called ritu.  The seasons and their dates are listed here.

Vasant     Spring         2/18 – 4/19

Grishma  Summer     4/19 – 6/21

Varsha     Monsoon     6/21 – 8/22

Sharad     Autumn       8/22 – 10/23

Hemant   Prewinter   10/23 – 12/21

Shishir     Winter        12/21 – 2/18

Six-season chartThe Jomon calendar of the Kanayama Megaliths has these six seasons.

Spring                           2/19 – 4/22

Early Summer            4/22 – 6/21

Late Summer              6/21 – 8/20

Autumn                        8/20 – 10/23

Early Winter               10/23 – 12/22

Late Winter                 12/22 – 2/19

The dates 2/19, 4/22, 8/20, and 10/23 are astronomical cross-quarter days. Compare the corresponding dates of the two calendars and we find that they differ only by 0, 1, 2, or 3 days. The summer solstice date is exactly right for India and for Japan. The winter solstice dates are 12/21 for India and 12/22 for Japan, so they do agree. The spring and autumn equinoxes are the middle date of both the Vedic and the Jomon calendars.

How the Jomon determined the seasonal dates.  You may be wondering what is the rule for the dates of 2/19, 4/22, 8/20, and 10/23 in the Jomon calendar. These are the dates when the sun’s altitude at noon is half-way between those of the winter solstice and the equinoxes for dates 10/23 and 2/19; half-way between those of the summer solstice and the equinoxes for dates 4/22 and 8/20. These dates are called yontobun in Japanese. It means dividing the zone of the sky between the highest and lowest altitudes into four parts.

How did the Vedic calendar determine the seasonal dates? Of the Hindu calendar it can be said:  Seasons follow the sun; months follow the moon; days follow both sun and moon. The seasonal dates of the Vedas roughly correspond to seasonal weather patterns, as can be seen from Monsoon as the late summer season. But why these exact dates? The calendar of the solar year is important for scheduling religious festivals. The ancient people of India were excellent astronomers who carefully studied the skies. They were familiar with the planets and the stars. So they must have had a good reason for selecting these particular dates. What was their reason?

Discussion.  From Internet articles about the Hindu religious calendar, we learned that government astronomers studied the position of the sun as it rose against the distant stars in order to determine the seasonal dates. This is not unlike the Jomon astronomers who used the position of the sun in the daytime sky to determine their seasonal dates. Once the Jomon people had set up the working megalithic observatory at Kanayama, they could simply watch the sunlight patterns to calibrate their calendar. They constantly monitored and updated their solar calendar so that it remained accurate to within one day.

While the dates of the six seasons of the Vedic and Jomon calendars agree closely, it is only a matter of time before the Vedic dates will drift slowly away, the effect of earth’s axial precession relative to the distant stars. The Jomon calendar may still be keeping good time, since it is watching the sun relative to Earth.






Himukae Ceremony on Winter Solstice 2017

Asadori ritual

Chika-san attended the Asadori Myoujin Himukae ceremony for the revival of the sun’s power. It took place as the sun rose in the south-east on the morning of winter solstice, shining directly into the center of the altar. Below is the altar before the sunrise, and then immediately as the sunlight illuminated the sacred object within.

Above is a photo of the priest explaining the ritual. He shouted the cock-crowing “Ko-ki-ko!” three times as a greeting to the sun. The group recited “Oh!”. This is a cry of joy that the sun is returning. Chika-san said that this ritual that musters life-force is very moving. The bright lights are the flashlights people are holding while it is still dark before sunrise.

Sun stones.  Once, there were behind the hokora, a Sun Stone and five stones behind it. Now there are only three, because two of them were moved. The two men who touched the stones were subsequently afflicted with illness. That is why there are only three stones behind the Sun Stone, and no one is permitted to move the other two back. Lining up each of the three stones with the Sun Stone is the way to view sunrise at three distinct times of the year. In the photo below, the Sun Stone is indicated by a red dot, and the three alignment stones are marked with blue dots.







Taki Jinja


Taki Jinja 瀧神社(たきじんじゃ)

Taki means waterfall. This is a Seoritsuhime shrine in a truly lovely secluded place. This shrine is simple and mysterious, in a shady forest. It is very peaceful here, listening to the sounds of birds and running water. This site is located in Mino, in Gifu Prefecture.

The shrine grounds are a level area with a slope to the right as we face the buildings from the parking lot. This is the slope from which the taki falls to the valley below, which its waters have created so long ago. Surely, the sacredness of this site was recognized by the ancient people. The taki itself is the goshintai sacred body. The named kami is Seoritsuhime, the guardian spirit of waterfalls and white water streams. There is another Taki Shrine in Kyoto, also dedicated to Seoritsuhime. The river formed by this taki is Itadori-kawa, a tributary of Nagara-kawa


The waterfall was the original sacred object and then the spirit of the waterfall was identified as Seoritsuhime no Mikoto. Other gosaishin are identified as Minasame no Mikoto, and Yaoroyorozu no kami, a panoply of kami. There is no chigi on the prayer hall. The direction is 263 degrees, which does not seem to be significant. After all, the main sacred object is the waterfall itself.





Jomon Heroes: Ryoumen Sukuna and Aterui


The Kanayama Megaliths were built in the land of Hida long ago. We have been running articles on Hida and its history. We have shown you a shrine by the name of Hidakinomiya in Shiroi in the Nyuukawa district of Takayama. The name, Hida, probably came from the practice of Hidaki. Hida folklore says that the nation of Nihon originated in Hida, and that they came from Mt. Norikuradake.

The residents of Hida, who consider themselves descended from the Jomon, still speak of a local hero from long ago named Ryoumen Sukuna. He lived here, he prayed there, he went to Mt. Norikuradake, he stood up to the powerful Imperial court, and so on go the stories.

Iwakage has already posted two articles about Ryoumen Sukuna, the hero of Hida. Just who was he? Why is he admired in Hida but described as a demon in Nihon Shoki?

In researching his story, we came upon the name Aterui. Aterui was the hero of Mutsu and Oshu (now Tohoku). His story is similar to Sukuna’s.

Jomon Period

To understand, we will review what was going on at the end of the Jomon period. The Jomon were the original inhabitants of the Hinomoto Japanese archipelago, since 14,000 BCE. Far from being barbarian hunter-gatherers, these people soon developed agriculture and sedentary lives in villages. Although they spoke different languages, they were unified in speech through the efforts of Isanami and Isanagi. The Jomon had at least one form of writing, called Woshite


Motoake Woshite chart by S. Sakata

The Jomon lived peaceful lives. It is said that Jimmu Tenno unified the land in around 660 BCE.

Yayoi Period

During the Yayoi period, 300 BCE to 300 CE, there was turmoil on the Asian continent, and droves of toraijin arrived on the shores of Hinomoto from China and Korea. These toraijin became powerful in society and created a court system. Their leaders had huge mounds (kofun) built as their burial places. The Kofun period was followed by the Asuka and Nara periods.


Nintoku’s tomb in Osaka

Around this time, an Imperial Court was formed and referred to as Yamato Choutei. The leaders were the toraijin who had assumed superiority and harbored an antipathy toward the indigenous Jomon. The provinces of Hida and Oshu were resistant to give up thier Jomon culture. Yamato Choutei sought to put down all dissenters.

Ryoumen Sukuna

In the fourth century, Ryoumen Sukuna was the leader of the people of Hida. He performed the Hidaki meditation practice at various sacred sites in Hida called Hidakinomiya, including in the Nyuukawa area near Takayama, and even on Mt Norikuradake. Sukuna would not yield to outsiders. Yamato Choutei went after Ryoumen Sukuna. With their greater numbers and strength, they eventually succeeded in killing Sukuna and bringing Hida under their control. Later, Oda Nobunaga would enter Gifu and take over a castle in the present city of Gifu.

The name, Ryoumen, translates to double-faced. He is described in the Nihon Shoki as a demon with two faces and four arms. However, in Hida, Ryoumen always looked after his people, and they much admired and respected him. This double view of Ryoumen is probably the reason for his name. To the victor belong the rights of writing history; thus Ryoumen is described as a villain in the official chronicles.

Far from being a monster, Sukuna was a pious man. He is well-remembered in Hida Kanayama, especially at Chinjyusan, the little yama (san) temple-shrine where he went to pray for peace. Chinjyu means shizumeru mamoru. Thus it is a place of shizumeru becoming calm, to be at peace, and mamoru, to protect. Thus, this mountain is a place which provides solace for the soul and sets it at peace, a secluded place for rest and contemplation.


Ryoumen Sukuna by Enkuu


Aterui was the hero of Oshu, now called Tohoku, at the end of the 8th century. At that time, the people of Oshu were the indigenous ones who have been deridingly called Ezo and Emishi. You may have heard of Ezo/Emishi in the negative view of those in power.

When Yamato Choutei in 724 established the kokufu government office at Tagajo in Michinoku, they were ready to control the Ezo with military power. Aterui formed a coalition of the Ezo tribes to protect their homeland and their way of life. That way of life was to respect the kami of nature and ancestors. Their seasonal foods consisted of salmon, deer, and rice cultivation. In contrast, Yamato had paddy rice agriculture, metalware, burial mounds. The Ezo resisted the domination of Yamato. They wanted to maintain their identity and independence.

Yamato Choutei went after the rebels. Emperor Kanmu sent the famous Sakanoue Tamuramaro with a large troop after Aterui’s small band. Aterui’s stronghold was in Iwate, and they resisted. Finally, in 802, Aterui was captured and beheaded even though Sakanoue protested that he be spared to help govern the land. The area received the name, Hitokabe, human neck. There is a river by the same name. And his son, named Hitokabemaru, also resisted and was slain. Later, there was a castle in Esashi, Iwate, called Hitokabe-jo, Hitokabe Castle. Now on the hill, grass grows over the remains of the castle.




In most of the literature we have seen about the transition from Jomon to Yayoi to Nara periods, scholars and other “authorities” claim that the transition was peaceful. Having learned of these two cases, one can hardly say that the transition was peaceful or compassionate.

The cases of these two freedom-fighters and the suppression of the Woshite writing of the Jomon attest to this.




Hida: Roots of Nihon

Hidakaido: Sukuna and Aterui

Aterui: Great Hero of Emishi


Wosite was Deliberately Erased